WASHINGTON — From the Senate to the State House to your local school board, candidates are cramming your mailbox — and increasingly your inbox with campaign literature. That’s because Maryland’s primary election is coming up on June 26. And early voting starts as soon as June 14.
Here are some steps you should take if you plan on casting a ballot in Maryland next month.
Am I registered?
Marjorie Roher, the public information officer for the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said voters want to check to make sure they’re registered to vote. The deadline to register is June 5 by 9 p.m.
Roher said keep in mind, Maryland holds “party primaries” and that means you can only vote for members of your own party. If you’re unaffiliated, but want to vote for congressional or county candidates, for example, you’ve got to register with a party. Roher said Montgomery County residents can do that online at 777Vote.org.
Can I vote early?
Early voting starts June 14 and runs through June 21.
“This year we have 11 locations throughout the county instead of the 10 that we’ve had in the past” Roher said. No matter where you live in the county, you can go to any early voting center to cast your ballot, she said.
The county’s also adding a “wait time dashboard” on its website, so you can calculate how much time you need to vote.
“If you’re down in Silver Spring and you’re on your way home to Damascus, there’s four or five early voting centers you’ll pass,” she said. By checking the wait time, “You’re going to minimize the time it takes to vote,” she added.
Roher said early voting has become increasingly popular. “You can pick the time of day that’s most convenient to you. You can vote on a Sunday morning if you want to, it’s so easy”, she said. “It gives you the flexibility on when and where you vote.”
Are the voting systems secure?
With concerns about the integrity of elections and the security of the ballots, Roher explained that all machines in the state are optical scanners. While there is a “paper trail,” you don’t get a copy of your vote. “You get a sticker that said you voted” she said.
But how does the paper trail work?
“The ballot that is filled out and then fed into the optical scan machine drops from the optical scan machine into a secured and locked box that is then transported back to board of elections headquarters and is retabulated in the days following the election,” Roher said.
She said the results that are reported on election night and the morning after include early voting and Election Day tabulations — they don’t include absentee and provisional ballots. Those are counted in the days following the election while an audit is conducted to verify the results. Only then are the results certified.
Can I take a selfie at the ballot?
One thing that election officials are increasingly reminding voters: Selfies aren’t allowed in the voting booth. Roher said “There are no cameras permitted in the voting room,” Rohe said. If an election judge sees you taking photos, they will ask you to stop, she added.
Roher said she knows many people may upload their selections to their cellphone or tablet, so they can use that while casting their ballot, but again, that’s not allowed.
Instead, she said, use the sample ballot mailed to you by the board of elections. “It shows the ballot face for your specific ballot based on where you live.” Roher said fill it out when it arrives to your home, and then carry it with you into the voting booth on Election Day. “Don’t rely on your cellphone on Election Day, bring in that sample ballot so you’ve got it as your guide.” That way, Roher said, you’ll cut down on the time it takes to cast your ballot and have your say.
Find links to helpful information below:
Maryland State Board of Elections
Montgomery County Board of Elections
Prince George’s County Board of Elections
Anne Arundel County Board of Elections
Frederick County Board of Elections
Howard County Board of Elections