In Maryland, elections officials are encouraging people to vote by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there will be dozens of drop boxes for mail-in ballots, as well as vote centers for in-person voting.
From when to vote, how to vote and what’s on the ballot, here’s everything you need to know about casting a ballot in Maryland in 2020.
Register to vote
Step one: Make sure you’re registered to vote. You can find out if you’re registered to vote online.
If you need to register to vote, you can also do that online.
If you’re already registered, but you need to update your registration — for example, changing your name or address or changing your party affiliation — you can also make those changes online.
The deadline to register to vote or to update your registration information is Oct. 13.
You can also register to vote or update your voter registration information in person during early voting or on Election Day. If you update your address on Election Day, you will be asked to complete a provisional ballot, and an election judge will assist you with the process.
All provisional ballots are counted even if they will not change the outcome of an election.
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What you need to know about mail-in voting
Maryland is urging voters to vote by mail this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s mailing absentee ballot requests to all of the state’s 4 million registered voters.
The requests started going out Aug. 24.
A voter’s request for a mail-in ballot must be received by their local board of elections by Oct. 20. The Maryland State Board of Elections recommends you mail your request by Oct. 15 to make sure it is delivered in time.
The board of elections is urging voters not to delay and to get their requests in as soon as possible.
Returning your ballot
The board of elections has these reminders for completing your ballot:
- Use black ink to mark your ballot
- Sign the return envelope, but do not sign the ballot
- Seal your return envelope
- Send your ballot using the postage-paid return envelope.
If you choose to have your mail-in ballot mailed via postal mail, it will come with a prepaid postage return envelope. If you choose to have your ballot emailed to you, you will need to print your ballot and then pay the postage yourself to return it.
For those who print out their own ballots off a computer (either because it was emailed to them or they downloaded it online), make sure you also print out the oath that comes on a separate page, sign it, and include it when you return the ballot. Ballots received through the mail have that oath on the outside of the return envelope.
If you decide to mail your ballot, it must be postmarked by Election Day, which is Nov. 3. Putting your ballot in a mailbox on Nov. 3 does not necessarily mean it is postmarked.
You can also take your completed ballot to a ballot drop box in your county. Overall, there will be 283 ballot drop boxes throughout Maryland, the board of elections said.
The drop boxes will be open until 8 p.m. on Election Day.
The state Board of Elections says ballots left in the boxes will be retrieved at least twice a day and will be “monitored and secured by trusted election officials.”
In an effort to help local election boards deal with an expected surge of mail-in ballots, the board approved rules in August allowing election officials to start tallying up mail-in ballots starting Oct. 1. However, the results won’t be announced until polls close on Election Day.
Below is a list of ballot drop boxes by county.
- Anne Arundel County ballot drop box locations
- Charles County ballot drop box locations
- Frederick County ballot drop box locations
- Howard County ballot drop box locations
- Montgomery County ballot drop box locations
- Prince George’s County ballot drop box locations
What you need to know about early voting
Marylanders also have the option of voting early.
Early voting will take place over an eight-day period beginning Oct. 26 through Nov. 2 (including Saturday and Sunday). The early voting locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Early voting centers will also be open on Election Day.
The board of elections said there will be about 80 vote centers open across the state.
Below is a list of early voting sites by county.
- Anne Arundel County early voting sites
- Calvert County early voting sites — The Early Voting Center for Calvert County registered voters is located in the lower level conference rooms of the Community Resources Building at 30 Duke St. in Prince Frederick, Maryland.
- Charles County early voting sites
- Baltimore County early voting sites
- Frederick County early voting sites
- Howard County early voting sites
- Montgomery County early voting sites
- Prince George’s County early voting sites
Voting on Election Day
Elections officials are urging people to vote by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there will still be places to vote in person on Election Day.
Overall, about 350 vote centers will be open across the state, including the early voting centers. Voters will be able to cast their ballots at any vote center in the county where they are registered to vote. Residents of Baltimore City can cast their ballots at any vote center in the city.
The vote centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.
Voters will also receive a mailing in October telling them where they can and when they can vote in person.
There will be some coronavirus-related changes so voters will be kept 6-feet apart, and the number of people allowed inside will be limited, which may result in lines and wait times.
The best time to vote is on weekends during early voting and between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Election Day.
Below is a list of voting centers open on Election Day by county:
- Anne Arundel County Election Day vote centers
- Baltimore County Election Day vote centers
- Calvert County Election Day vote centers
- Charles County Election Day vote centers
- Frederick County Election Day vote centers
- Howard County Election Day vote centers
- Montgomery County Election Day vote centers
- Prince George’s County Election Day vote centers
What’s on the ballot?
There’s a range of things on the ballot that voters will weigh in on.
In addition to the presidential contest, all of Maryland’s eight U.S. House seats are up for grabs. Democrats hold seven of the eight seats.
- Republican — Andy Harris (incumbent)
- Democratic — Mia Mason
- Republican — Johnny Ray Salling
- Democratic — C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (incumbent)
- Republican — Charles Anthony
- Democratic — John Sarbanes (incumbent)
- Republican — George E. McDermott
Democratic — Anthony G. Brown (incumbent)
- Republican — Chris Palombi
- Democratic — Steny H. Hoyer (incumbent)
- Republican — Neil C. Parrott
- Democratic — David J. Trone (incumbent)
- Green — George Gluck
- Republican — Kimberly Klacik
- Democratic — Kweisi Mfume (incumbent)
- Republican — Gregory Thomas Coll
- Democratic — Jamie Raskin (incumbent)
In addition, there are a number of state and local measures.
Statewide, voters will weigh in on two ballot questions.
Question 1 is a constitutional amendment that would change the state’s budget process. The measure, which is backed by Democrats in the Maryland House and Senate, would allow the Maryland General Assembly to increase, decrease or add items to the budget submitted by the governor as long as it doesn’t exceed the total amount proposed by the governor. The measure wouldn’t take effect until 2024.
Question 2 is a referendum that asks voters to weigh in on whether to authorize sports and events betting at licensed facilities. If approved by voters, the referendum authorizes the General Assembly to approve legislation that would allow the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission to issue sports betting licenses.
In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a federal ban on sports betting was unconstitutional. Since then, a number of states have legalized sports betting. Both D.C. and Virginia have legalized sports betting since the Supreme Court decision.
In Maryland, sports betting is still illegal.
Local ballot measures
There are also a number of local ballot measures.
There are competing measures on the ballot for limiting property tax increases and for changing the structure of the Montgomery County Council.
Question A — This proposal, which is backed by the Montgomery County Council, would remove an inflation-pegged cap on property tax revenue collected but would instead cap the property tax rate at the previous year’s level unless the council voted to override it by a unanimous vote.
Question B — This measure would continue the cap on property tax revenue increases at the level of inflation but would prohibit the county council from overriding the formula. Currently, property tax revenue is pegged to inflation but the county council can override it by a unanimous vote.
Question C — This measure would expand the Montgomery County Council from nine members to 11 by increasing the number of council districts from five to seven. The number of at-large council members would remain unchanged.
Question D — This proposal would change the county council structure by doing away entirely with at-large seats. The total number of council members would remain at nine, but they would all be elected by geographical district.
Prince George’s County
(Editor’s note: This section has been updated to correct the designations of the ballot questions.)
In Prince George’s County, there are five bond issues on the ballot.
Question A is a $178.15 million bond issue that would fund public works and transportation projects.
Question B is a nearly $28.83 million bond issue to finance the design and construction of library projects.
Question C is a nearly $44.48 million bond issue to finance construction projects at public safety and fire department facilities.
Question D is a $133 million bond issue to finance construction and rehabilitation projects at county buildings.
Question E is a $121.7 million bond issue to help fund projects for community college facilities.
Anne Arundel County
In Anne Arundel County, there are seven questions on the ballot, including a measure that would require key county executive appointments — including county attorney, chief of police and fire chief — to be confirmed by the county council.
Another measure would beef up the power of the county auditor to have access to county records and to conduct investigations into waste, fraud and abuse.
Voters in Baltimore County will weigh in on six bond issues.
In Frederick County, voters will see four ballot questions. They include a measure requiring the Frederick County executive to provide any information requested by an individual member of the county council in their official duties; and measures dealing with vacancies on the county council and in the position of county executive.
Voters in Howard County will weigh in on three ballot questions, including one allowing the county council to set dates for drawing new council district borders.
County residents are also being asked to vote on an update to Howard County’s anti-discrimination polices that replaces the word “sex” with “gender identity or expression.”