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Virginia, Maryland deadlines fast approaching to request mail-in ballot

We’re coming down to the home stretch of this election which means ballots are being cast and deadlines are approaching.
Credit: Zach Merchent
Outside the government center in Virginia

WASHINGTON — Election day is less than three weeks away and if you're one of the many who plan to vote by mail, there's a lot to keep track of to make sure your vote is counted.

RELATED: Voter Guide 2020: Here's everything you need to know

We’re coming down to the home stretch of this election which means ballots are being cast and deadlines are approaching.

Daniel Cook dropped off his completed mail-in ballot Sunday morning at the Fairfax County Government Center.

“I'm an American,” Cook said. “If I want to be able to complain about the problems, I have to be part of the process.”

Virginia had some hiccups last week with voter registration after a work crew accidentally cut a cable and crashed the state's online registration portal for a few hours. The state ended up extending the deadline by 48 hours.

RELATED: Virginia judge extends voter registration for 48 hours following system outage

Despite all that, Cook, a Fairfax County resident, isn’t too worried.

“With what I do in the internet networking field I see it happen a lot around the country,” said Cook about the severed cable. “It happens.”

If he wants to, Cook can double-check to make sure his ballot gets where it's supposed to go.

DC, Maryland, and Virginia all offer ballot tracking tools for mail-in voters on their board of elections websites to help make sure all votes are counted.

 But in two of those places, the deadline to request a mail-in ballot is getting close.

In Maryland, requests must be received by the elections office no later than Tuesday, October 20. In Virginia, the cut-off is Friday, October 23.

RELATED: What can you expect to see on the Maryland ballot? Here's what you need to know

One more thing to know: just putting that ballot request in the mail by the deadline isn’t going to cut it.

Your local elections office has to actually receive the request by the deadline. So, for instance, if you live in Fairfax County, you've got to get that request received by the elections office at the government center no later than Friday.

In most cases, you can also request a mail-in ballot online in Maryland and Virginia. In DC, the board of elections said it’s automatically sending a mail-in ballot to all active registered voters.

For more information about the upcoming election, check out our voting guide.