Is that box for mail-in ballots or COVID tests? DC aims to head-off confusion

Voters know to carefully fill in the box next to their candidate’s name on the ballot — but this year, voters in D.C.’s primary election are also being reminded to make sure their mail-in ballot ends up in the correct drop box.

Starting Friday, voters in the District can place their filled-in mail-in ballots in drop box locations across the city, through Election Day on June 21.

“Now, some of these boxes are positioned very close to COVID drop boxes,” warned Nick Jacobs, a spokesman with D.C. Board of Elections.

In 2021, D.C. Health started allowing residents to take a COVID-19 test at home, and submit it for testing.

“We simply ask that voters pay careful attention to which box they are putting their ballot in, and to put it in the right box,” Jacobs said.

The possibility of confusion has been considered — and planned for.

“Rest assured, we have protocols in place, with the Department of Health, to ensure that anyone who mistakenly puts their ballot in the wrong box will still have their ballot counted,” Jacobs said.

“All ballots will collected multiple times every day, to ensure safety, security, and election integrity,” he said.

Those who want to vote in-person can do so during the early voting period, which runs from June 10 through June 19.

The highest-profile race on the ballot is the Democratic primary for D.C. mayor, with Muriel Bowser running for a third term. She faces three Democratic challengers including Council member Robert White, Council member Trayon White and James Butler.

Voters will also be asked to choose candidates for D.C. attorney general, D.C. Council chair and five other council seats.

WTOP’s Nick Iannelli contributed to this report.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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