WASHINGTON — QUESTION:
Can you print your ballot at home? If so, is it considered an “official” ballot?
Maryland: Yes, but it has to be hand-copied to make it official and readable by tabulation machines.
Virginia: Yes, but only if you are a citizen overseas, an active duty uniformed-military member or qualifying spouse/dependent.
D.C. voters don’t need to print one at home because the city is sending all active voters a mail-in ballot to their registered address.
A viewer asked us to Verify two things:
Can you print a ballot at home?
And if so, is that considered an “official” ballot?
In Maryland, we can Verify that according to election officials and its official application form, voters can choose “internet delivery” and print a ballot at home.
But it’s not an official ballot. Election officials told our researchers Maryland scanning machines can’t read the print at home ballots. They say an election official will hand-copy the ballot onto an “official” ballot that can be scanned and tallied.
According to the Virginia Department of Elections two groups of people can print ballots: People who are overseas and active-duty military members and their families.
Just like Maryland, Virginia voting machines can’t read those home-printed ballots. So again, Virginia election officials will have to copy that ballot over to one that can be scanned.
Officials told our researchers that ballots from overseas and military voters go to the central absentee precinct or "CAP" on election night for resolution since their ballots cannot be scanned in any of the voting machines.
The CAP will have a team that will take the printed ballot and remake the votes onto an official ballot which is printed.
The team will have representatives from both parties and will note on the printed paper ballot usually in the heading that it is being remade (Remake #1) and the official ballot that has been remade will also not in its heading (Remake #1).
The team will confirm the votes are identical to the printed ballot before it is scanned in the voting machine.
The printed ballots that have been remade are kept and can be with an audit matched up with the official ballot that was made by matching the note in the headings (Remake #1, Remake #2, Remake #3, etc.).
Officials tell our Verify team the secrecy of the ballot is maintained throughout this process.
And D.C. voters don’t need to print one at home because the city is sending all active voters a mail-in ballot to their registered address.
So, we can Verify, yes, voters in Maryland and in some from Virginia can print ballots at home.
But those are NOT the official ballots.