Voter Registration in Maryland
How to register to vote in Maryland has been the topic of recent legislative efforts as lawmakers attempted to further broaden regulations to improve and increase voter access to the polls. The state already offers online, in person and mail-in registration options. Numerous governmental agencies and partner sites accept voter registration card applications, including Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) centers. Enrollment guidelines allow prospective voters to register almost until Election Day itself.
Absentee ballots, early voting periods, early registration and other accommodations make voting as flexible and easy to access as possible for voters of all ages, employment and levels of mobility. The online voter information system enables voters to quickly change voter registration information, keeping their records up to date and current while also avoiding any delays or discrepancies when Election Day rolls around.
Who can register to vote in Maryland?
Residents who are 16 years of age or older can register to vote in Maryland, although voting rights will not kick in until voters turn 18. Prospective voters must be citizens of the United States and legal residents of Maryland.
Registration is not open to individuals who have been convicted of election fraud or tampering or who are serving sentences for the commission of felonies. Applicants will also be denied voter registration cards if they have mental disabilities that prevent them from voting.
Maryland Voter Registration Deadline
State election authorities understand that many voters do not start to wonder, “Am I registered to vote in Maryland?” until close to Election Day. Accordingly, registration deadlines are as generous as possible to ensure that voters have every opportunity to register. The deadline by which to register using any method to vote in Primary Elections is the first week of June.
The deadline for general elections is the middle of October. Voters who miss these deadlines can still register to vote in person during the early voting period at any early voting center. Prospective voters are encouraged to apply for a voter registration card as early as possible to avoid inconveniences and errors that might interfere with their ability to vote in the next election.
How to Register to Vote in Maryland
Eligible applicants can request Maryland voter registration cards online using the state’s Online Voter Registration System. Users will need to supply baseline personal information, such as their names, addresses and contact information. They will also need to provide their drivers license numbers or DMV-issued non-driver ID card numbers. Applicants may register to vote using their Social Security Numbers (SSN) if they do not have a DMV-issued ID card of any kind.
Alternatively, applicants may register by mail or in person. In-person applications may be submitted to voters’ local boards of elections, the State board of elections, Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) centers and most governmental agency offices. Individuals registering to vote may also submit applications to any college or university, Armed Forces Recruitment offices, marriage license offices or early voting centers.
Voters may elect to affiliate with a political party when registering or may designate themselves as unaffiliated. However, unaffiliated voters cannot vote in primary elections.
Early Voting in Maryland
Maryland allows voter registration card holders to vote prior to Election Day. Voters are not required to prove they have a “need” to vote early. All voters may cast their ballots during the early voting period at their discretions. The early voting period also serves as a final opportunity for unregistered voters to submit registration applications in time to vote in that election.
Early voting periods run for one week prior to the primary and general elections. Voters wondering, “Where do I vote early?” can check with their local electoral officials for a complete list of authorized early voting sites. The number of sites available will be based on the total population of voters in that given precinct.
Maryland Voter Registration for Active Duty Military and Out-Of-State Residents
Applicants can still register to vote in Maryland even if they anticipate being out of the state or out of the country during elections. United States Armed Forces service members, their families and other adults eligible to vote can complete the registration process in Maryland and vote by absentee ballot. Most qualifying parties choose to apply via the online system or a Federal Post Card Application (FPCA).
Maryland Voter Registration for Absentee Voting
All residents registered to vote in Maryland may request and use an absentee ballot to vote at their convenience. No explanations or justifications are necessary. The deadline by which voter registration card holders must request their absentee ballots varies, depending on how they elect to receive their ballots (e.g. electronically, by mail or fax or in person).
Absentee ballots must be returned in person or by mail. The deadline for return depends on the return method selected.
Voter Registration Cards in Maryland
Voters will receive Maryland voter registration cards from their local boards of elections when their applications have been processed and they are fully registered to vote. Voters do not need to carry their cards with them when going to vote. They may, however, provide helpful references for what information is on voters’ records and reminders of the need to change or update that information in the event of a move or name change.
How to Change Your Voter Registration in Maryland
Maryland residents who are registered may update or change a voter registration address or name through the Online Voter Registration System. If they prefer, they can submit hard copy applications requesting the change to their local boards of election, instead.
Voter registration change of address requests may be submitted during the early voting period, as well. When updating their voter information, residents should also change their address on their drivers licenses and on other important DMV documents, such as their car registrations.
How to Replace a Lost Maryland Voter Registration Card
Replacement Maryland voter registration cards will be sent automatically if voters update or alter their voter records. They may also be requested, as needed, from voters’ local boards of election.