UPDATED: D.C.’s online absentee ballot request form was broken

October 5, 2012

This ballot is from Iowa. But it’s a ballot. (Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press)

UPDATE 3 P.M.

A little more than three weeks remain before the deadline for D.C. residents to request absentee ballots for the Nov. 6 election. But those in need are currently unable to download an absentee application from the Board of Elections Web site.

The online absentee function gives users an error when they try to display a personalized application form: “This URL is not valid. Please try again.” A resident who contacted me said the function has been down “for some days.” The alternative is hauling oneself down the board’s offices at One Judiciary Square downtown.

Spokesman Wesley Williams said board staff “are aware of it and are working on resolving the issue.” 

Williams has not yet responded to a question about how long a fix might take. Absentee ballot applications must be received by the board by Oct. 30.

The online function uses an online form to populate a PDF file, which still must be printed out and mailed to the board. Might I suggest an easy fix: Just ditch the auto-populate feature and post a blank form!

UPDATE, 2 P.M.: It’s even worse than I first indicated: Not only the absentee ballot function is broken, the form to register to vote or update your registration is also broken. Applications to register or update an existing registrations are due next Tuesday, Oct. 9. Voters who are unable to  register or update their registrations may have to cast provisional ballots on Nov. 6.

The registration function, like the absentee function, is an auto-populated PDF form. Posting a blank form to be filled out by hand would fix the problem.

UPDATE, 3 P.M.: Huzzah! Everything seems to be working now.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis | October 5, 2012