How to Vote in Maryland’s 2020 Election: What You Need to Know

Posted on 10/12/20

En Espanol | Maryland’s election plan gives residents options designed to make voting more convenient and safer during the coronavirus pandemic:

  • Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The state's board of elections in September published a list of voting locations. Your usual polling place may be different this year, so check before you leave.
  • Be prepared for potentially long lines, and remember to take your mask and to follow social distancing measures at the polls. Most voters will not need to show identification, though some first-time voters may be asked to present a valid ID.
  • With Election Day only days away, consider dropping off your completed mail-in ballot in person. The state election office has more information about where to take your ballot.
  • Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in August decided to allow roughly 350 voter centers to replace the state's traditional precincts due to an expected shortage of poll workers on Election Day. The state will also introduce more than 260 ballot drop boxes throughout the state.
A man walks out of an absentee voting station after voting

Here’s what else you need to know.

How do I register to vote?

You can register online, in person or by mail. You’ll need a Maryland driver’s license or a Motor Vehicle Administration ID card to do it online; you’ll need either of those or a Social Security number if you register by mail. In person, you will need a document (paycheck, bank statement, utility bill) that proves where you live. Register online at the State Board of Elections website. You can also print an application from the election board’s website and mail it in or request one from your local board of elections or from the State Board of Elections.

Or you can register in person at many state and local government offices, including Motor Vehicle Administration offices and local department of health offices, plus college campuses, though some sites have reduced hours or require appointments because of the pandemic.

The deadline for registering to vote in the 2020 general election is Oct. 13, though you can also register during early in-person voting at an early-voting center or on Election Day at your assigned polling place. You’ll need an ID or documentation that proves where you live, such as a driver’s license, utility bill or bank statement.

How can I get a mail-in ballot? Are there important deadlines?

The state plans to send applications for mail-in ballots to all voters. Return it and you will receive a ballot before the election. If you don’t receive an application, you can request one online. You can also print the application. Your local election office must receive your ballot application online or by mail, email or fax by Oct. 20.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3. If you want to deliver your ballot, take it to an early-voting center or, on Election Day, to a local board of elections office or a polling place by 8 p.m. 

How do I know that my mail-in ballot is secure?

Returned mail-in ballots are handled only by designated election officials, who follow strict rules. The state also employs cybersecurity experts specifically for elections and uses a “defense in depth” program that runs multiple checks on voting procedures. It uses cybersecurity services offered by the Department of Homeland Security and follows the state’s IT practices. Maryland also conducts audits after elections, which have confirmed the accuracy of voting.

When is Election Day? When are the polls open?

Tuesday, Nov. 3. The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The state's board of elections in September published a list of voting locations.

Can I vote before Election Day?

This year, early voting will be held from Oct. 26 through Nov. 2. Roughly 80 voter centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., including weekends. The state's board of elections in September published a list of early voting locations.

What form of identification do I need to vote?

Most voters do not need any identification to vote. Some first-time voters will be asked to show identification, such as a driver’s license, student ID, recent utility bill or bank statement with a home address. Find the full list of acceptable IDs here.

What is being done to make polling places safe from the coronavirus?

The state is supplying personal protective equipment to poll workers and volunteers. Local election boards are expected to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines on sanitizing facilities, social distancing and mask requirements.

Will I be able to vote in the same place as I always have?

If you've traditionally used one of the state's roughly 1,800 precincts to cast your ballot, probably not. Gov. Hogan previously ordered all voting centers open, but about 350 voter centers will replace the state's traditional precincts because of an expected poll worker shortage. Check your voting site on the state election board’s website to confirm where you can cast your ballot. You'll also be able to drop your ballot into one of more than 120 drop boxes that will be set up throughout the state.

What are the key races in my state?

  • U.S. President
  • U.S. House: All 8 seats
  • Baltimore mayor

This story was updated on Nov. 2 with information about voting in person. Voting rules and procedures may change before Election Day. We’ll update this story if they do, so bookmark this page and check back.

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AARP is urging older Americans to ask the candidates 5 key questions:

  • Just over half of all older Social Security beneficiaries rely on the program for at least 50 percent of their income. If elected, how will you ensure that current and future Social Security benefits are not cut as part of deficit reduction?
  • Half of the people with traditional Medicare spend at least a sixth of their income on health care. If elected, how will you protect Medicare from benefit cuts, as well as lower health care costs and ensure seniors continue receiving the affordable health care they have earned?
  • COVID-19 has caused death and suffering for too many older Americans who require long-term care. If elected, how will you make sure seniors can access safe and affordable long-term care at home, as well as in facilities like nursing homes and assisted living?

Also of Interest

This story is provided by AARP Maryland. Visit the AARP Maryland page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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You can find CDC’s latest coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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