Early voting begins this week across Maryland as the delayed 2022 primary election gets underway.
Voters can cast their ballots in-person starting Thursday at designated early voting locations open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily — including Saturday and Sunday — through July 14.
To vote early, participants must select from a list of dedicated early voting locations in the county where they live. Baltimore residents should select a city location. These locations may be different from your traditional voting place. A list of early voting centers in your jurisdiction is available here.
Whether you plan to vote early, on July 19, or with a mail-in ballot, there have been some changes introduced since the last election cycle because of the pandemic and new political boundary maps as a result of the U.S. Census.
Here’s what you need to know to make sure your vote is counted this election season.
Mail-in voting, once only used in a pinch, became mainstream in Maryland during the coronavirus pandemic. During the height of the virus, ballots were mailed to all voters. Later, officials settled into a hybrid election format that allowed voters to cast ballots in person or via mail-in ballot.
That hybrid format is back this summer as voters cast their ballots for primary candidates at the state, federal and some local levels, including the state’s attorney races in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Statewide races include a large field of candidates hoping to become governor as of 2023, as well as contests for attorney general, comptroller and U.S. Senate.
Polls will be open on the day of the primary election — Tuesday, July 19 — from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Voters in line by closing time will be able to vote. You can find your polling place for Election Day using the state’s voter lookup tool here.
Voters who want to cast a mail-in ballot must first request one from the State Board of Elections or their local board. Voters have until July 12 to request a ballot by mail or July 15 for a ballot delivered online. The deadline to request a ballot in person is primary day itself: July 19.
You may have received an unsolicited application in the mail to apply for a mail-in ballot. The state is mailing ballot request forms to more than 3 million registered voters this cycle. Actual ballots, however, must be requested.
Voters also can request ballots via email. Those voters will receive an email with a link to a ballot that must be printed and returned as a mail-in ballot.
Mail-in ballots must be postmarked or placed in a designated ballot drop box by 8 p.m. July 19. Ballot drop boxes are open 24 hours a day and are monitored by surveillance.
Drop boxes already have been distributed statewide and will remain in place through Election Day. A list of ballot drop box locations is available on the State Board of Elections website here.
Mail-in ballots should be completed in black ink. Voters need to sign the return envelope where prompted, not the ballot. A postage-paid return envelope is included with mail-in ballots. Recipients of emailed ballots must provide their own envelope and postage.
Maps for county, state and congressional districts were updated this year to reflect the results of the 2020 U.S. Census, so your polling place and even some of the officials who represent you may have changed. Legal wrangling over redrawn maps delayed the primary.
State officials recommend all voters confirm their current district and polling place information online before Election Day by using the state’s voter lookup tool here or by calling or visiting their local board of elections. A list of local board contact information can be found here.
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Keep up to date with Maryland politics, elections and important decisions made by federal, state and local government officials.
To find which officials represent you, the state offers a search tool here that will show your current districts and elected officials on the federal and state level.
The Baltimore Sun’s voter guide including state and local candidates from Central Maryland is available here.
The deadline to register to vote for the primary was June 28, but Maryland also allows voters to register when they vote.
To take advantage of same-day registration, go to an early voting center in the county where you live during early voting, or go to your assigned Election Day polling place. Bring a document that proves where you live such as a Maryland-issued license or paycheck, bank statement or utility bill with your name and address.
It depends how many voters cast mail-in ballots.
A Baltimore Sun Media/University of Baltimore poll conducted last month found about a quarter of likely Maryland voters plan to cast their ballots by mail.
Republican Gov. Larry Hogan recently vetoed a bill that would have allowed elections officials to begin counting mail-in ballots ahead of Election Day, potentially delaying election results. Hogan said he objected to a separate part of the legislation that would have allowed voters a chance to sign mail-in ballots if they forgot to before dropping or mailing them.