Who is Responsible for Counting Votes in Howard County? - An Expert's Guide

The mission of the Board of Elections is to ensure that federal, state, and local elections are conducted in a timely, responsible manner, and with the highest level of professional electoral standards, responsibility, security, and integrity. The goal is to earn and maintain public trust in the electoral process. The Howard County Clerk's Office is recruiting election judges for the upcoming elections. Election judges are a fundamental part of the electoral process and it is a great opportunity to serve your community and earn extra money in the process.

Voting can be done in person during early voting or on Election Day, or by means of a mail-in ballot. If you can't vote during early voting or on Election Day, you can vote by mail. Learn more about voting by mail. Early voting dates are Thursday, July 7 to Thursday, July 14 for the primary elections and Thursday, October 27 to Thursday, November 3 for the general elections.

To vote in person during early voting or on Election Day, you must bring a document that proves your residence. This can be done by showing the election judge a Maryland driver's license or identification card with your current address or, if you don't have these documents or they don't show your current address, you can show the election judge a paycheck, bank statement, utility bill, or other official document with your name and new address. The deadline for requesting a mail-in ballot for the general election for governor depends on how you want to receive your ballot. When you arrive at the polling place on Election Day or during early voting, you will hand-mark pre-printed paper ballots in a voting booth. After reviewing your marked paper ballots, you will insert them into a scanner that tabulates voter selections.

The paper ballots are automatically placed in a secure ballot box. On election days, there will also be an electronic device for marking ballots at voting centers. These devices are available for all voters to use and also contain accessible features that allow voters to make selections using a keyboard with raised navigation buttons in Braille and audio headphones. The device for marking the ballots also allows voters to enlarge the text and change the contrast of the screen, and can be used with other assistive devices.

The ballot marking device will print your ballot which you will then need to insert into a separate scanner that tabulates voter selections. Review your printed ballot to make sure that the selections listed on the ballot are the ones you intended to choose. If someone at the voting center questions your identity, they will offer a provisional ballot to those they believe are eligible to vote but whose name does not appear in the voter registration database. Provisional ballots contain the same options as ordinary ballots and look the same. However, the provisional voter must complete the information on the provisional envelope, place the ballot inside the envelope, and give it to the election judge to place it on the provisional ballot.

Do not place a provisional ballot on a scanner at the voting center. Voting or trying to vote more than once is illegal and if you do so election officials will refer you to law enforcement agencies for further investigation. If someone questions your right to vote and if the local election board determines that you are who you say you are, your provisional ballot will count. You may want to contact your local election board and provide identification. If a court orders that voting centers remain open late and you voted during this time all voters who vote during these extra hours must vote with a provisional ballot. As long as this court order is confirmed your provisional ballot will count. After the election you can use the State Board of Elections voter Search website to find out if your provisional ballot was counted and if not why it wasn't counted.

This information is usually available ten days after the election. When voting it is important to remember that while you can use a t-shirt or campaign button when you vote, you cannot stay or campaign or talk to other voters about elections while at the polling place. In addition cell phones or other electronic devices cannot be used at voting centers. You can take your election materials including your sample ballot with you to the voting center so that you can mark your options ahead of time and vote quickly once registered. Do not try to put a sample ballot on a scanner nor leave any election materials at polling places. To ensure safe in-person voting local election boards can implement social distancing practices and recommend hygiene protocols for all participants in electoral process. Follow these procedures to protect yourself and fellow citizens. All early voting centers and most regular voting centers are accessible to voters with disabilities.

Review your sample ballot to see if it is described as an accessible polling place or use voter search website for this information. If your polling place cannot be accessed there will be a list of reasons which can help decide if it is accessible.