A steady influx of absentee voters visited the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics yesterday, the first day of voting for those who won't be able to cast ballots in person on Election Day, Nov. 2.

Maryland and Virginia voters have been able to cast absentee ballots at registrars' offices since late last month, and both jurisdictions report that interest in absentee voting has been strong. District voting officials said yesterday that they couldn't provide turnout estimates for the first day of absentee voting, and they declined to compare it with previous elections.

"It's been steady. I can say that," said Bill O'Field, a spokesman for the elections board.

In all three jurisdictions, absentee voters can cast ballots in person or by mail.

District voters wishing to vote by mail must send an application to the Board of Elections by Oct. 26. The request must include the voter's name, registration address, mailing address where the ballot should be sent, reason for voting absentee and the voter's signature. Requests should be mailed to the D.C. Board of Elections Voter Services Office, 441 Fourth St. NW, Room 250 North, Washington, D.C. 20001-2745. Applications also are available on the board's Web site, www.dcboee.org.

"The requests just need to reach us by then because we need enough turnaround time to get the ballots out to them," O'Field said. "When they send the ballots back, they need to be postmarked no later than Nov. 2."

District absentee voters also can cast their ballots in person at the Fourth Street office, above the Judiciary Square Metro station, through Nov. 1. Voting hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information, voters can call 202-727-2525.

In Maryland, voters have been able to deliver absentee ballots by hand to county elections boards since late last month, said Donna J. Duncan, director of the State Board of Elections' election management division. Voters can continue to bring in absentee ballots to those offices until Election Day.

Mail applications for Maryland ballots must be received before 4:30 p.m. Oct. 26, and applications sent via fax must arrive by 11:59 p.m. that day. Applications also can be downloaded from the elections board Web site, www.electionsmaryland.com, or ordered by calling 410-269-2840.

Maryland ballots mailed from within the United States must be postmarked by Nov. 1 and received by the local boards by 4 p.m. Nov. 3. If mailed from outside the country, absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 1 and must arrive by 10 a.m. Nov. 12.

In the 2000 presidential election, almost 100,000 Maryland voters cast absentee ballots.

"I fully expect that number [this year] or potentially more," Duncan said.

In Virginia, voters have been able to vote absentee at registrars' offices since Sept. 20. Hours of in-person voting depend on the jurisdiction, said Jean Jensen, secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections.

Virginia absentee voters can send requests for ballots to their local registrars' offices through Oct. 28. Applications also can be found on the department's Web site, www.sbe.virginia.gov. Mailed absentee ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 1 and received by 7 p.m. Nov. 2.

More than 100,000 Virginia voters have requested absentee ballots, Jensen said.