Student Voting Guide | Maryland

August 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of Maryland. If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state where you attend school. If you want to cast an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here.

While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated August 15, 2014.

Registration

To register to vote in Maryland, you must be a United States citizen and at least 18 years old by the next general election. However, you may pre-register to vote in Maryland when you are 16.[1] And you may vote in primary elections while you are still 17 if you will be 18 by the next general or special election.[2]

Maryland now offers online voter registration for individuals who have a Maryland driver’s license or state-issued ID card.  You can register online here.  Anyone may also register to vote either in person or by mail.[3] The registration deadline is 9 p.m., 21 days before the election,[4] and mail-in forms must be postmarked by that date.[5]

Effective January 1, 2016, Maryland voters who provide proof of residency may register and vote on the same day during the early voting period, but not on Election Day itself.[6]

If you have been convicted of a felony, it may impact your ability to vote. If you think you might be affected, you should contact your local election officials.

You can obtain registration applications at a variety of locations across Maryland: local election board offices (find yours here), the State Board of Elections office, Motor Vehicle Administration offices, public institutions of higher education, military recruitment offices, and  all state and local offices that provide public assistance or services to the disabled.[7] These include the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Department of Social Services, Offices of Aging, the MTA Paratransit Certification Office, marriage license offices, and offices for students with disabilities at all Maryland colleges and universities.[8]

Voter registration applications are also available for download from the Maryland State Board of Election’s website here.

If you move within Maryland—from one Maryland address to another—you should notify your local election board office. This can be done by mailing a signed notice of your change of address to the board office, appearing in person, or submitting a new voter registration application.[9]

Residency

At School. In order to vote in Maryland, you must be a resident of the state.[10] Students can establish residency in Maryland if they have a present intent to remain at their Maryland school address for the time being, and they intend to make it their principal home. [11] You do not need to plan to stay in Maryland after graduation to meet these requirements.[12] Any other interpretation of the residency laws is unconstitutional.

Voting in Maryland may be considered a declaration of residency, potentially making you subject to other laws that govern state residents.

At Home. If you lived in Maryland prior to attending school in another state and wish to establish or keep your Maryland voting residency (i.e., at your parents’ address), you should have no problem doing so unless you have already registered to vote in another state. While registering to vote in another state is not automatically considered an abandonment of residency in Maryland, some judges or officials might view it as such. If you have established residency in another state and are moving back to Maryland with the intent to reside here, you will have to follow the normal registration procedures to re-register at home.

Challenges to Residency. The local board of elections can deny your registration application if they do not think that you are a resident, but they must notify you of the reasons for denial.[13] You can appeal that denial to the State Board of Elections, and appeal the State Board’s decision to the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County; any appeal of the Circuit Court’s decision must be made within five days.[14] Your eligibility to vote cannot be challenged at the polls on the basis of your residency.[15]

Identification

Federal law requires that first-time voters who register by mail and do not have their identity verified by the state must provide ID, either when voting in person or by submitting a copy of their ID with their absentee ballot. Sufficient proof of identity includes any current and valid photo ID, or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter.

You will be required to provide ID only if you are a first-time voter who registered by mail and election officials could not verify your identifying numbers (your Maryland driver’s license or ID number or last four digits of your Social Security number),[16] Proof of identity (anything listed above) can be provided at the polls or anytime before the election; you can drop off or mail a copy of your ID to your local election board office.[17] If you are required to show ID but are unable to do so, you can still cast a provisional ballot,[18] which will be counted if you bring ID to the county election board office by 10 a.m. on the 2nd Wednesday after Election Day.[19]

Absentee Voting

In Maryland, any registered voter can vote absentee and need not provide a reason for doing so.[20] You can apply for an absentee ballot in person, by mail, by fax, or online. Applications are available here. To apply online, you must have a have a Maryland driver’s license or state-issued ID card. The absentee voter application deadlines are different depending on if you request that your ballot is sent to you by mail/fax or the internet.

If you requested that election officials mail or fax your ballot to you:

  • And you mailed or faxed your application, it must be received—not just mailed—by your local election board office no later than 8 pm on the Tuesday before the election.[21]
  • And you submitted your application online, it must be received by 11:59 pm on the Tuesday before the election.[22]

If you requested that election officials send you your ballot online (you must still mail the ballot in):

  • And you mailed or faxed your application, it must be received by 5 pm on the Friday before the election.[23]
  • And you submitted your application online, it must be received by 11:59 pm on the Friday before the election.[24]

You may also apply for an absentee ballot in person at an election board office until the polls close (8 pm) on Election Day.[25]

In order for your absentee ballot to be counted, election officials must receive it before the polls close on Election Day, or the ballot must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by 10 a.m. on the second Friday (ten days) after the election.[26] Neither your application nor your ballot must be notarized or witnessed.

Early Voting

As a convenience to voters, Maryland allows early voting.[27] Find your local Early Voting Center, as well as dates and times for early voting, here.

Effective January 1, 2016, Maryland voters who provide proof of residency may register and vote on the same day during the early voting period, but not on Election Day itself.[28]

Last Updated August 15, 2014.


[1] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 3-102(a)(1)(ii).

[2] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 3-102(a)(2)(i).

[3] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 3-201.

[4] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 3-302(a).

[5] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 3-302(c)(1).

[6] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 3-305.

[7] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law §§ 3-201, 3-204(a)(2)-(3).

[8] Voter Registration, Md. State Bd. of Elections, http://www.elections.state.md.us/voter_registration/index.html#Where.

[9] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 3-304(a)(1).

[10] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 3-102(a)(1)(iii).

[11] See Blount v. Boston, 718 A.2d 1111, 1121 (Md. 1998) (“the controlling factor in determining a person’s domicile is his intent”); Bainum v. Kalen, 325 A.2d 392 (Md. 1972); see also Students Enrolled in a Maryland Institution of Higher Education, Md. State Bd. of Elections, http://www.elections.state.md.us/voter_registration/students.html.

[12] See Dorf v. Skolnick, 371 A.2d 1094, 1102 (Md. 1977) (referring to “present intention”).

[13] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 3-301(c)(1).

[14] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 3-602.

[15] See Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 10-312 (noting that a voter’s eligibility may be challenged “only on the grounds of identity”).

[16] Md. Code Regs. 33.07.06.03-04.

[17] Md. Code Regs. 33.07.06.03-04.

[18] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 9-404.

[19] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 11-303(d)(4)(ii); see also Rules and Information for Voters, Md. State Bd. of Elections, http://www.elections.state.md.us/voting/election_day_questions.html.

[20] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 9-304; see also Absentee Voting: Information and Instructions for the 2014 Gubernatorial Elections, Md. State Bd. of Elections, http://www.elections.state.md.us/voting/absentee.html.

[21] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 9-305(b); Md. Code Regs. 33.11.02.01

[22] Md. Code Regs. 33.11.02.01

[23]  Id.

[24]  Id.

[25] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 9-305(c)(1).

[26] Md. Code Regs. 33.11.03.08(B).

[27] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 10-301.1

[28] Md. Code Ann. Elec. Law § 3-305.