Mover's Guide: District of Columbia

August 10, 2010

Board of Elections:  202-727-2525

I moved from the address at which I am registered.  What should I do?

I moved from another state.

If you moved to the District of Columbia from any state, you must register to vote in D.C. to be able to vote.[1]  You can register on Election Day at the polling place if you take an oath and provide proof of residence.[2]  You can also register to vote in person at the Board of Elections within thirty days before the election.[3]  If you decide not register in person, the last day to register to vote in the next election is thirty days before the election.[4]

If you moved from any state, you are only eligible to vote if you have been a resident of D.C. for at least the thirty days prior to the day of the election in which you want to vote.[5]  But under federal law, if you move within thirty days of a presidential election, you are allowed to vote for President and Vice President in your former state of residence, either in person or by absentee ballot.[6]

I moved within the District of Columbia.

If you moved to a new address within D.C., you should notify the Board of Elections in writing to update your registration records.[7]

The election is right around the corner and I never updated my registration from my previous address.  What should I do?

Many registered District of Columbia voters who move are still entitled to cast a ballot that will be counted — even if they did not notify the appropriate election official about the move before Election Day.

Scenario One: New Address, but Same Polling Place 

If you moved to a new address that is covered by the same polling place as your old address, you can vote a regular ballot at that polling place after confirming your change of address.  This is true regardless of how close to the election you moved.[8]

Scenario Two: New Address within District of Columbia but New Polling Place

If you moved to a new address within the District of Columbia but with a different polling place, you are entitled to vote a regular ballot at your new polling place if you take an oath and provide proof of residence.[9]  For elections prior to 2011, your ballot will be considered a “special” ballot that will be counted if your residence is confirmed.[10]

If the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics makes a preliminary decision that your “special” ballot will not be counted, you can contest this decision at a hearing.[11]


[1] D.C. Code §§ 1-1001.07(a), 1-1001.02(2) (2010).

[2] D.C. Code § 1-1001.07(g)(5).  For elections prior to 2011, ballots cast by Election Day registrants are considered special ballots, which are counted subject to the Board of Elections’ verification of residence.  For elections in 2011 and beyond, ballots cast by Election Day registrants are only considered special ballots subject to verification if the voter fails to present a valid, government issued photo identification showing his or her address.

[3] D.C. Code § 1-1001.07(g)(4).

[4] D.C. Code § 1-1001.07(g)(1).

[5] D.C. Code § 1-1001.02(2)(C).

[6] 42 U.S.C. §§ 1973aa-1(e), -1(h) (2010).

[7] D.C. Code § 1-1001.07(i)(2) (2010).

[8] 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-6(e)(1).

[9] D.C. Code § 1-1001.07(g)(5). 

[10] D.C. Code §§ 1-1001.07(g)(5), 1-1001.09(e)(1).

[11] D.C. Code § 1-1001.09(e)(4).