How to make sure your vote gets counted in DC

Closeup of a Vote by Mail envelope, official balloting material - business reply mail, USPS first class mail.(Getty Images/iStockphoto/Darylann Elmi)

Some D.C. ballots aren’t being counted because they’re not filled out right. How should voters be filling out their ballot to make sure it’s counted?

When voters turn in their ballot in D.C., their signature is checked before it’s counted.

“We instantly compare it side-by-side with the signature that we have on record,” said Nick Jacobs, the public information officer for the D.C. Board of Elections. “If there’s a question, we’re going to have another set of eyes put on it,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said they will try to get it figured out. “We will reach out to the voter to have the ballot cured, to remedy the signature, or if a voter has forgotten to sign it, to get that signature,” he said.

He said just over 100,000 ballots have been submitted in total so far through the mail and drop-off boxes in D.C.

Jacobs said that a dozen ballots have not been counted so far because the signatures didn’t match the ones voters previously used at the polls, or from the signature on record at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The District has already seen a 26% increase in mail-in ballots and drop-box ballots from the 2016 election.


Jacobs said about 100 ballots have been flagged for not having a signature.

Adding a middle name won’t disqualify it.

Jacobs said they’re looking for evidence of voter fraud. “We understand that your signature may change through the years,” he added.

Another issue they’re seeing? “I’ve heard of instances where someone has cast three votes instead of only two for the at-large council seats,” Jacobs said.

And what happens to those ballots where too many candidates are selected?

“The ballot will be rejected,” Jacobs said.

In addition to reading carefully and selecting the appropriate number of candidates, Jacobs said voters should only use blue or black ink. A marker or a Sharpie would work just fine as well.

And, if you were planning to vote by mail and didn’t receive your ballot yet?

“You should plan to vote in person,” Jacobs said.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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