Rules and Information for Voters
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- Make sure that you are registered to vote and that your information is correct. If you need to register to vote or update your information, you can do it online or submit a voter registration application.
The deadline to register to vote and update your information is 21 days before an election.
If you use the online system, you must be finished by 9 pm. To make sure that you are done by 9 pm, we suggest that you access the system no later than 8:50 pm on the deadline.
- For the 2016 Primary Election, the deadline is April 5, 2016.
- For the 2016 General Election, the deadline is October 18, 2016.
If you submit an application after the deadline, election officials will process it after the election. You can provide any new information when you vote, but if you moved, you may have to vote a provisional ballot. If you can't register by the deadline, go to an early voting center in the county where you live and bring a document that proves where you live. This document can be your MVA-issued license, ID card, or change of address card, or your paycheck, bank statement, utility bill, or other government document with your name and new address.
- Before a primary election, make sure that you are eligible to vote in a primary election. Only certain voters can vote in a primary election.
- Decide when and how you want to vote. You can vote in person during early voting or on election day or by absentee ballot.
- If you want to vote in person, know where to go.
If you moved at least 3 weeks before the election, go to the polling place for your new address. Use the voter look-up website to find the polling place for your new address. At your new polling place, you will vote a provisional ballot, but as long as you complete and sign the provisional ballot application, all of your votes will count.
If you moved less than 3 weeks before the election, you may vote at the polling place for your old address or vote a provisional ballot at your new address. To find the polling place for your new address, use the polling place search.
- Know what type of voting system you will use when you cast your ballot.
- Check to see if your polling place is accessible. All early voting centers in Maryland are accessible.
- If you have a disability, learn about the accessibility features of Maryland's voting system and if you need help voting, who can help you vote.
- Review the sample ballot you received in the mail or print it from the voter look-up website. To find out more about the candidates on your ballot, review voter's guides provided by the League of Women Voters, major newspapers and other organizations. The State Board of Elections does not have biographical or background information on candidates.
- Use the voter services site to see if you have to show ID before voting.
- If English is your second language, ballots and other voting materials in Montgomery and Prince George's Counties are provided in Spanish. Check with your local board of elections to find out if information in other languages are available.
- Certain voters may have to vote a provisional ballot. Understand provisional voting in case you have to vote a provisional ballot.
- You can bring one or two children under 18 years old with you to vote. Under Maryland law, the children can accompany you as long as they do not disrupt or interfere with normal voting procedures. (Election Law Article, sec. 10-308, Annotated Code of Maryland).
- You cannot use your cell phone, pager, camera, and computer equipment in an early voting center or at a polling place.
- You can bring any printed material - including your marked specimen ballot - to help you vote.
- Some first time voters in Maryland will be asked to show ID before voting. If you are asked to show ID, please show an election judge one of the following forms of ID:
- A copy of a current and valid photo ID (i.e., Maryland driver's license, MVA ID card, student, employee, or military ID card, U.S. passport, or any other State or federal government-issued ID card); or
- A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows your name and address. Current means that the document is dated within 3 months of the election.
- When you go vote, you can wear clothing, buttons or stickers with political messages, but you must leave the early voting center or polling place immediately after voting.
- In a general election, you can write-in the name of a candidate, but in a primary election, you cannot. Instructions on how to cast a write-in vote and a listing of the filed write-in candidates will be posted at the early voting centers and at your polling place on election day.
- If your employer asks for proof that you voted, ask an election judge for a Certificate of Participation.
- If you voted an absentee or provisional ballot, find out whether your ballot was counted and if not, the reason why it was not counted. This information is typically available about 10 days after an election.
- If your employer requires proof that you voted, give your employer the Certificate of Participation you received from the election judge.
- Electioneering is permitted in certain areas outside of an early voting center or polling place.
- What is electioneering? Electioneering is campaigning for or against a candidate or ballot issue. It includes handing out fliers, holding signs, and encouraging voters to support or oppose a candidate or ballot question.
It is not electioneering if a voter wears campaign buttons, t-shirts, or stickers when voting. After voting, however, the voter must immediately leave the early voting center or polling place.
- Where can I electioneer? At each voting location, there is a line as near as practicable to 100 feet from the entrance and exit of the facility. In Montgomery County, the "no electioneering" zone may be located anywhere between 25 feet and 100 feet from the entrance and exit of the building. To electioneer, you must stay behind that line.
- Who can electioneer? Almost everyone can electioneer. Election judges, challengers and watchers, and other people within the marked no electioneering zone of the facility cannot electioneer. These individuals cannot wear or display campaign materials.
- Exit polling is allowed in Maryland. An individual can conduct exit polls as long as the person:
- Is outside of the voting room
- Does not ask questions until voters have left the voting room
- Tells voters that answering questions is voluntary
- Is not electioneering and therefore can be within the 100 foot no electioneering zone
- Employers must give certain employees time off to vote and pay them for their absence. If an employee is a registered voter and does not have two continuous hours off-duty between 7 am and 8 pm on election day, the voter's employer must give the employee two hours to vote and pay the employee for the two hour absence.
- Members of the press are permitted to enter an early voting center or polling place and may film voting activities, but they must respect the secrecy a voter's ballot and allow election judges to maintain control of the early voting center or polling place. If you are with a media organization and wish to visit early voting centers or polling places, please provide the local board of elections in the county where you would like observe election activities with a list of the early voting centers and polling places you would like to visit.
- If you wish to observe voting activities in an early voting center or at a polling place, you must be accredited as a challenger and watcher.
If you still have further questions, please contact us.