DC votes: Why casting your ballot early is important

There’s no question that voting is critical — but when and how you vote is also important, and D.C.’s Board of Elections is asking residents to hit the polls early.

Nick Jacobs, public information officer with the D.C. Board of Elections, said the District has been seeing a good turnout since early voting centers opened Tuesday.

But they’re doing a “full-court press” to get people to the polls early.

“Please don’t wait till the last minute,” Jacobs said, because on Election Day, “there are going to be lines; they’re going to be long.

“And if you vote early, you’ll have everything all tied up and have a bow on it and and your vote will be counted.”


Timing is everything.

Jacobs said it’s better this close to Nov. 3 to head to an early voting center than to rely on the U.S. Postal Service to get your ballot in.

“If you have your mail ballot at home, and you’re thinking about putting it in mail, don’t. The honest answer is, don’t use USPS at this point.”

“If you do have that mail ballot, roll by an early vote center. Even if there is a line, you don’t have to wait; you could walk right up front, drop it off and be out in five seconds.”

If you’re worried about the coronavirus, Jacobs said, there are plenty of safety precautions in place to protect voters.

And so far, D.C. voters have cast more than 220,000 ballots.

“It’s an amazing turnout, when you take a look back and see that we had a total turnout in 2016 of about 312,000,” Jacobs said. “D.C. is really turning out. And it’s amazing. It’s incredible. It’s great.”

Given how divisive the election is, the District is taking measure to make sure nobody heading polls feels threatened, though Jacobs said there haven’t been any reports of intimidation that he’s aware of.

“Let me emphasize that we have taken a number of precautions to ensure that voters have a safe and secure experience,” Jacobs said. “All of our ballot workers are trained to spot any intimidation and handle it quickly. We’ve been in close touch with MPD (Metropolitan Police Department), just making sure that patrols are around in case anything takes a very bad turn.”

He added that, if you aren’t registered to vote, you can do so in person right at the polling center.

“You can register and vote during early voting and on Election Day, or you can just show up at a vote center,” Jacobs said. “Please bring a proof of residency with you, and that can be a lease or rental agreement; it can be a utility bill, a cable bill — anything like that will count as proof of residency. Fill out a form; you’ll get your ballot, and you’ll be able to vote.”

“There’s nothing better than a first-time voter.”

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Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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