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Resources - August 31, 2020

How To Cast Your Ballot This Election Year

by Kathie Miller

Every election is important. Knowing how to vote is key, especially now. This year’s election is complicated by the fact that we will still be dealing with the pandemic. We might even find ourselves in a moment of surging cases and stay-at-home orders come Election Day. Older adults, many of whom serve as volunteers at their polling places, are rethinking their plans to vote.

With this in mind, we are providing tips on how to safely cast your ballot this fall. The most important piece of advice we can offer is this: Do not wait! With everyone addressing their concerns and adjusting their plans to vote, registrars are busier than usual. Voting should go smoothly for everyone. To ensure it goes as smoothly as possible for yourself, do not wait until the last minute to make your plans.

Goodwin House Alexandria resident Laura Lawson put together a checklist for our residents and staff. Laura is one of several residents who are working hard to assist other residents and staff with their voting registration needs. She agreed to let us share the same information here on the blog.

Please Note:  At the time this blog was published on August 31, 2020, the information below was accurate and fully up-to-date. We will update it if we learn of any changes. Please be sure to check your jurisdiction’s website for changes as well. We noted changes were being made frequently as states and the District of Columbia continue to adjust to the circumstances.

If you have questions about how to safely vote this year, please read the following closely and check out the resources we list at the end.

Voting Checklist and Information: General Election, November 3, 2020

Step 1 | Be Sure You Are Registered

Be sure you are registered under your current name and current permanent address. Check your jurisdiction’s website for residency requirements and other special requirements. Note: If you reside in the District of Columbia, they offer same-day registration procedures on Election Day.

If you changed your name or moved from outside of your current state, district or jurisdiction, submit a registration form by mail, in person or online. Please note that even local moves can have an impact on your voting, especially if you plan to vote in-person on Election Day. Please be sure to confirm your registration status if you are uncertain of it. Check your jurisdiction’s website for ways to submit updates to your existing registration, as well as new registration forms and any I.D. requirements.

Deadlines to Register To Vote:

  • District of Columbia deadline: Oct. 13
  • Maryland deadline: Oct. 13
  • Virginia deadline: Oct. 13

Step 2 | Decide How To Vote

Once you confirm that you are registered, decide how to vote. You have three options to consider:

  1. Absentee by mail
  2. Absentee in-person (sometimes called “early voting”)
  3. At the polls on Election Day

Absentee Voting by Mail | Our Recommended Option

We recommend one of the two absentee voting options. If you are voting by mail, please keep in mind that you must request an absentee ballot. Make the request as soon as possible and by the following deadlines:

  • District of Columbia: No request is necessary. Ballots will be sent to all registered voters. If you need your ballot to be sent to an alternative address, you must submit your request by Oct. 27
  • Maryland deadline: request received by Oct. 20
  • Virginia deadline: Oct. 23

Once you have requested your absentee ballot, you should expect to receive it in the mail. Maryland residents can request to get their ballots by fax or to download their ballots from the state’s website. Here is the schedule for the registrars to mail out ballots:

  • District of Columbia: first week of October
  • Maryland: about three weeks before the election
  • Virginia: beginning September 18

Once you receive your ballot, we recommend you fill it out and return it as soon as possible. Ballots must be postmarked and/or received by the following dates:

  • District of Columbia deadline: Postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 13
  • Maryland deadline: Hand delivered by Nov. 3 OR Postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 13
  • Virginia deadline: Postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by noon on Nov. 5

Absentee Voting In-Person / Early Voting

Local jurisdictions offer in-person absentee voting, which is sometimes referred to as “early voting”. Check your jurisdiction for details to know where early voting is taking place. This type of voting typically is similar to Election Day voting—you visit a polling location, check-in and cast your ballot.

Here are the dates during which early voting is available:

  • District of Columbia: Between Oct. 27 – Nov. 2
  • Maryland: Between Oct. 26 – Nov. 2
  • Virginia: Between Sept. 18 – Oct. 31

For More Information

Washington, D.C. Board of Elections

  • Phone:                202-727-2525
  • Address:             1015 Half Street, SE, Suite 750 | Washington, D.C. 20003
  • Email:       
  • Website:   

Maryland State Board of Elections

Virginia State Department of Elections


As Corporate Director of Marketing & Communications, Kathie Miller provides strategic guidance and tactical support for all areas of Goodwin Living. She writes, edits and manages The Good Life blog and newsletter. Kathie joined GHI in 2014 after nearly 15 years at NPR, where she honed her skills in brand and reputation management, content marketing and internal communications. Originally from Pennsylvania, Kathie has slowly come to realize she’s lived in Arlington for more than half her life and should call herself a Virginian. She enjoys the outdoors and brings her rescue dog, Remi, to work every day.



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