To make sure your absentee vote-by-mail ballot gets counted, you must follow the instructions on how to properly fill it out and return it.
While instructions are provided with your ballot, watch this helpful video that shows what you need to do. This includes one of the most critical steps — filling out the envelope that you must put your ballot in.
The instructions provided with your ballot will tell you what you need to know, but more detailed instructions are also available in multiple languages on the Fairfax County Office of Elections webpages.
Your ballot must go INSIDE “Envelope B” and you must fill out the highlighted items. By law, your ballot will not be counted if it isn’t put inside this envelope.
It’s also critical to fill out the information highlighted in yellow on this envelope. This includes the address where you are registered to vote and your signature. (If you’re not sure of your registration address, check on the state’s website.) By law, you must complete this information for your ballot to be counted.
You do not need a witness signature on “Envelope B” if you feel unsafe to have a witness present. Your ballot will be counted even if you don’t have a witness signature. This is a special accommodation for the Nov. 3, 2020, election due to COVID-19.
You may see “ID Required” on the light-blue colored return envelope that you use to mail back your ballot. This means that you must include a copy of your identification when you send back your ballot. Follow the instructions on the pink sheet included with your ballot.
The ID requirement only applies to people who didn’t provide an ID if they registered to vote by mail for the first time in Virginia.
Photo IDs, like a Virginia driver’s license, may be used as identification or a copy of your:
- Current utility bill.
- Bank statement.
- Government check.
- Other government document with the voter’s name and address.
These documents must show your name and address though.
If you need help filling out your ballot, be sure the person helping you fills out their name and address on the blue “Request for Assistance” form. This completed form must be mailed back with your ballot.
Use a dark-colored pen when you complete your ballot. No pencils, please! Your marks must be seen clearly by the voting machine, and pencil marks aren’t visible. You also don’t have to vote for every race, amendment or question that’s on the ballot.
You have three options for returning your ballot:
- Mail it back. Put it in mail right away if you already know how you’re going to vote—but no later than Halloween, Oct. 31. Your ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 3, and it must be received by the Office of Elections by noon on Nov. 6.
- Put it in a ballot drop-off box at any early voting location. Boxes are only available during the hours early voting sites are open, but there’s also a secure, 24-hour drop-off box outside the Fairfax County Government Center you can use anytime.
- Put it in a drop-off box on Election Day, Nov. 3. Boxes will be available at every precinct (outside the voting room) from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For questions or more information about voting and deadlines, contact the Fairfax County Office of Elections at 703-222-0776, TTY 711.