Get the Facts about Voting by Mail in Arlington

Published on September 22, 2020

Arlington voters have three options for casting their ballots in November's general election: in-person on Election Day, early in-person voting, and mail-in ballot.

Arlington voters who choose to vote by mail have to request their ballot—and can do so in one of six different ways.

The first round of vote-by-mail ballots have been sent to people who requested them, but it's not too late to request yours. Ballot applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Oct. 23.

To help you understand how voting by mail works—and feel confident in submitting your ballot—we've broken down the facts you need to know.

Voting by mail is free. Arlington pays for first-class postage for all return ballots. You do not need any stamps! Each ballot gets first class treatment on its way through the U.S. Postal Service.

Voting by mail is easy. In addition to the six ways you can request a ballot, there are three ways you can return your ballot. You can return it by mail by dropping it in any U.S. Post Office box. You can bring it in person to the Bozman Government Center—and even request a drop-off appointment so you don't have to get out of your car! Or you can drop it at one of the supervised drop boxes located around the County.

Voting by mail is private. When checking in your ballot, Election Officers verify that your name and address from the Statement of Voter on your return envelope match our records. Then the ballot is passed to a separate Election Officer who removes it from the envelope and places in a batch with other ballots for tabulation.

You can track your ballot. You can track your ballot through the process to confirm it has been received by the Office of Voter Registration & Elections. Once an Election Officer checks your ballot in as marked, it has been accepted and tabulated.

You can mail in or drop off your ballot. Vote-by-mail ballots can be dropped off at all early voting locations and the Office of Voter Registration & Elections (2100 Clarendon Boulevard, Third Floor) or at your polling place on Election Day. If you choose to mail in your ballot, it must be postmarked for return by 7 p.m. on Election Day. Mailed ballots must be received by Friday, Nov. 6.

Every ballot will be counted as it is received. Federal law requires all valid votes to be counted regardless of how they are cast. This includes every mailed ballot. Arlington checks in ballots as soon as they are received and starts processing them. However, we don't total the results until 7 p.m. on Election Day, when the polls close in Virginia.

All registered voters are eligible to vote by mail. For the Nov. 3 general election, any registered voter may vote by mail—whether you're concerned about exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic or want to avoid the potential to wait in line on Election Day.

No witness is required. While people voting by mail in Virginia used to be required to have someone 18 or older witness them completing their ballot, a recent court decision will allow ballots to be accepted without a witness signature. (You will still see the witness line on your ballot. They were printed before the court decision.)

You must use the provided envelope. These envelopes have voter-specific barcodes on them that speed up processing. Those barcodes allow the Arlington Office of Voter Registration & Elections to quickly check in your ballot so you can see if it was accepted.

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What if I requested a vote by mail ballot, but I want to vote in person?

If you have your vote-by-mail ballot, bring it with you to vote in person at one of the early voting locations. Election officers will be able to change you from a vote-by-mail voter to an in-person voter. If you don't have your ballot, you'll be required to sign a statement saying you will not use your vote-by-mail ballot. If you requested a mail ballot and wait to vote in person until Election Day, you will be required to fill out a provisional ballot at your polling place on Election Day.