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Voter Guide 2020: Here's everything you need to know

From voter registration questions to explaining how mail-in ballots work, here's the latest information about the upcoming election in D.C., Maryland and Virginia

WASHINGTON — The general election is on November 3. From a look at the candidates to the ballot issues to making sure your vote is counted, here's a look at what to know.

Here's what you'll find in this guide:

  • How to register to vote
  • Important dates to know
  • Receiving your ballot
  • Making sure your vote counts
  • Election results

RELATED: What can you expect to see on the DC ballot? Here's what you need to know

RELATED: What can you expect to see on the Maryland ballot? Here's what you need to know

RELATED: What's on Virginia's ballot? Check our voter guide

RELATED: What's on the West Virginia ballot? Here's what you need to know

How to Register to Vote


There are two ways to vote in D.C.: by mail and in-person.

To register to vote by mail:

  • Print, fill out, and sign a Voter Registration Application or find one at designated locations such as DCBOE, public libraries, Metropolitan Police Department precincts, or fire stations.
  • You will need to include a photocopy of a current proof of residence. Acceptable proofs include a current D.C. DMV-issued ID, a bank statement, a current utility bill or your current lease. You can find a full list of acceptable documents here.
  • To be processed, your application must be received by the DC Board of Elections at least 21 days before Election Day.

D.C. offers same-day registration at Early Voting Centers and at the polls on Election Day. Bring an acceptable proof of address (same as above) when you go to vote or visit the D.C. Board of Elections, DMV or one of any National Voter Registration Act agencies that may be found here.

Voter registration forms are also available at Armed Forces recruitment offices and local universities and colleges.


The State of Maryland allows voters to register online through the Maryland Online Voter Registration System or by submitting a voter registration application to their local board of elections or the State Board of Elections. Voter registration closes on October 13.

You may also register to vote on Election Day. To do so, go to an early voting center or an Election Day voting center in the county where you live and bring a document that proves your residency.

More information about registering to vote in Maryland can be found here.


The deadline to register or update your registration for the November election was Tuesday, October 13, 2020. Virginia voters now have until Thursday at 11:59 p.m. to register to vote after a cut cable temporarily disabled the state's registration website on Tuesday.

RELATED: Virginia judge extends voter registration for 48 hours following system outage

If you register online, you'll need a state ID. You can register online at www.elections.virginia.gov/citizen-portal. If you register in-person or through the mail, you'll need your Social Security number

You can check if you're already registered at vote.elections.virginia.gov. You may register to vote at your local Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office or request an application from your local general registrar

Additional information about registering to vote in Virginia can be found here or at your local registrar's website

Important Dates to Know

The 2020 General Election is on Tuesday, November 3. In D.C., Maryland and Virginia, the deadline to register to vote is October 13 – although D.C. and Maryland both allow same-day registration on Election Day.

You can register at Vote.org and get all the latest information. Or click here to check your status.

Credit: TEGNA
The deadline to register to vote in Virginia, Maryland and D.C. is October 13, although D.C. and Maryland also offer same-day registration on Election Day.

Early Voting Dates:

  • Virginia Early Voting:  Sept. 18 - Oct 31
  • District of Columbia Early Voting: Oct. 27- Nov. 2
  • Maryland Early Voting: October 26 - Nov. 2

RELATED: Don't mistake your ballot application for 'junk mail,' Maryland authorities warn

Mail-in Ballot Due Dates:

District of Columbia 

  • Postmarked: Nov. 3
  • Received by: Within 7 days of Election Day. 


  • Postmarked: Nov. 3
  • Received by: Nov. 13 at 10 a.m.


  • Postmarked: Nov. 3
  • Received by: Nov. 6 at noon

Before mailing your ballot in, make sure that you've signed everywhere that needs to be signed. If not, your ballot could be thrown out. This includes the voter's oath or your return envelope, and anything pertaining to your witness requirements. 

Note: To offset fears of mail delay and USPS underfunding, request your ballot early. Mail your ballot back early. Vote early.

Receiving Your Ballot


In the District of Columbia, all registered voters will be mailed a ballot for the Nov. 3 general election during the first week of October. More information about this can be found here.

In D.C., at least, voters should disregard a postcard about mail-in ballot deadlines sent to every American by the U.S. Postal Service, as the information it contains isn’t correct for the District.

RELATED | USPS postcard has ‘inconsistent’ voting deadlines, state election officials say


As a result of the pandemic, every registered voter in Maryland was mailed a mail-in ballot application during the last week of August.  

You may also request a mail-in ballot through the state’s web portal, by completing and returning a form to your local board of elections or by visiting your local board of elections and filling out a form there. Your request must be received by October 20.

If you are unable to pick up your ballot yourself, in Maryland you are able to designate someone else to deliver your completed mail-in ballot application to your local board of elections and return your ballot to you. To do this, you must complete a designation of agent form. You should check whether your local board of elections office will be open ahead of time, as the pandemic may affect whether it is open to the public.


In Virginia, you can register to vote, check your registration status and apply for a mail-in ballot through the Virginia Department of Elections’ web portal. You can then use the state’s Citizen Portal to check if your absentee application was received and whether your ballot was received.

You can also submit your vote by mail application by mail, fax or email. Some first-time voters may not be able to vote absentee by mail. More information about that can be found here.

Making Sure Your Vote Counts


The District of Columbia Board of Elections offers a web portal to track the status of your mail-in ballot.


In Maryland, you can use the state’s voter look-up website to verify if your local board of elections has received your request for a ballot and the status of your mail-in ballot.


Virginia offers an online Track Your Ballot tool to determine the status of your mail-in ballot.

Do you need ID to Vote?


Registered voters don’t need to show proof of residence to vote.


If you are registered and have voted in previous election you don’t need ID. But if you’re changing your address during early voting or registering to vote at a polling place on election day bring ID.


All voters must bring ID to vote.

Drop box deadlines

Voters may drop voted mail-in ballots in any drop box at any time until 8pm on Election Day, Tuesday November 3rd, 8pm


Each jurisdiction will have at least two Ballot drop box locations and will remain open until 8pm on Election Day, Tuesday November 3rd


There is a drop box location at your local registrar's office, at every voter satellite office in your county or city. Ballot drop boxes will remain open until 7pm on Election Day, November 3rd.

Can voters wear political attire while voting?


No. Officials will ask you to take it off hats or buttons and ask you to turn shirts inside out.


Yes, voters may wear political attire.


Yes, voters may wear political attire.

Where to file a complaint

D.C. Board of Elections: Call Center (202) 741-5283

Maryland Board of Elections: (800) 222-8683 

Virginia Department of Elections (800) 552-9745

Election Results 

On Election Day, once the polls have closed you can find live results as they come in for D.C., Maryland and Virginia right here.