Voting Rights

Who may register to vote in Maryland?

You may register to vote in Maryland if ALL of the following facts are true:

  1. You are a US citizen; and
  2. You are a Maryland resident; and
  3. You are not disqualified (see below); and
  4. You are at least 16 years old.  (You can register at age 16, but you generally cannot vote until age 18.  The one time you can vote while under age 18 is in a primary election that leads to a general or special election that will take place when you are at least age 18.)

Who is disqualified from registering to vote?

You are disqualified from being a registered voter if ANY of the following facts is true:

  • You are serving a court sentence of imprisonment (including any parole or probation) for a felony conviction; or
  • You are under guardianship for mental disability AND the appropriate court has found by clear and convincing evidence that you cannot communicate, with or without accommodations, a desire to participate in the voting process; or
  • You have been convicted of buying or selling votes.

Read the Law:  MD Code Ann., Election Law § 3-102. Qualifications for voter registration

See the Board of Elections website for deadlines for each election.

When to expect your voter's registration information: 

About three weeks after you register, you should receive a voter registration card in the mail. This verifies that you are registered.

You can also call your local Board of Elections.

You can also look on-line at a website created by the secretaries of state to allow voters who move to see information from other states as well as their own state

If you do not receive the card in the mail, there may have been a problem and you may not be registered even if you completed the voter registration form (pdf).  You should contact your local Board of Elections immediately.

What happens if you move:

You do not need to re-register if you move to another place within Maryland,  but you will need to contact your local Board of Elections to update your address. Read the Law: MD Code Elections § 3-304
When you complete a change of address form at the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) this information will be sent to your local Board of Elections.

You can choose not to change your voter registration information, for example if you are military personnel being deployed overseas or are a student who is attending college out of state who chooses to remain a Maryland resident.
If you move from Maryland to another state, you will need to register to vote in that state.

You also need to update your information with the local boards of election if you legally change your name.

If you moved or changed your name and did not update your information with your local Board of Elections, you must use a provisional ballot. Your new address determines which candidates you are able to vote for. You have two options:

  • You may  fill out a provisional ballot at your old precinct.
    If you choose to vote at your old precinct, only your votes for candidates whose name also appears on the ballot at your new voting location will be counted. 
  • You may fill out a provisional ballot at you new precinct.

 If you chose to vote at your new precinct, your ballot will have the names of all the candidates for whom you are eligible to vote.  Therefore, all your votes will count.

You may not vote at your old precinct without informing the election judge of your change of address and asking for a provisional ballot.  Voting in an election district where you do not currently reside is illegal.  MD Const. art. I, § 5.

You will need to provide a Maryland driver’s license number or Motor Vehicle Administration identification card number, or your Social Security number to complete the voter registration.

Election judges prefer that you take a picture ID to the polling place. You must have identification if:

  • It is your first time voting in Maryland,
  • You sent your voter registration in by mail on or after October 14, 2008, and
  • You have not already met the identification requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act (Pub. L. 107-252, 42 U.S.C. 15483)

Acceptable picture IDs are:

  • Maryland driver's license
  • Student, employee, or military ID card
  • U.S. passport

If you do not have a picture ID, you may also use:

  • utility bill,
  • bank statement,
  • government check,
  • paycheck (Pub. L. 107-252, 42 U.S.C. 15483)

If you are already registered and you are denied the right to vote because you do not have a picture ID, you may cast a provisional ballot. When the board of elections confirms that you are in fact a registered voter, your provisional ballot will be counted.

Polling officials must allow you to vote on a provisional ballot if:

  • you do not have picture ID
  • if an error at the polls leaves you off of the registered voter list OR
  • if the election judge says you are not eligible to vote

Read the Law: MD Code Elections § 9-404

Information about the requirement and procedures of provisional voting on the Maryland Board of Elections website.

If you are registered and they refuse to allow you to vote on a provisional ballot, you may contact the Maryland Board of Elections or the Maryland Attorney General's Office or 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

If you are in foreclosure proceedings you are still eligible to vote in the district in which you reside and you retain that right to vote in that ward or district until you establish a residence in another ward or district.  For more information see Attorney General Gansler's letter to the State Board of Elections addressing concerns about voters and foreclosures.

How do I find out if my provisional vote was accepted?

The federal Help America Vote Act (Pub. L. 107-252, 42 U.S.C. 15301 et seq.) requires states to create a system where individuals can find out if their provision ballot was accepted or why it was rejected. In Maryland, there are two ways to obtain this information:

By calling 1-800-222-8683 or
By entering your information in the online database.

Voting & the Homeless

Even if you do not have a fixed residence, you have the right to vote as long as you meet the other voting requirements.

The Maryland State Board of Elections has a Rumor Control page to dispel some rumors that have been circulating in the public surrounding the upcoming elections.  Frequently asked questions regarding foreclosures, campaign merchandise, voter registration, college students, absentee ballots, registering before election, provisional voting, and undercover officers are addressed.

However, you must provide a mailing address in order to register to vote. You may provide to address of the place you regularly receive mail. 69 Op. Att'y Gen. 138 (1984).  The following are some examples of possible addresses you may be able to use. You may first ask if they would be willing to accept mail for you.

  • Shelters or
  • Outreach centers or
  • Churches, Temples, or Mosques, or
  • A relative or friend’s address.

It makes sense to give them a way to contact you when you receive mail. You can set up an email account that you can access from a public library or any other computer that you are able to use.

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Is this legal advice?

This site offers legal information, not legal advice.  We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information and to clearly explain your options.  However we do not provide legal advice - the application of the law to your individual circumstances. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.  The Maryland State Law Library, a court-related agency of the Maryland Judiciary, sponsors this site.  In the absence of file-specific attribution or copyright, the Maryland State Law Library may hold the copyright to parts of this website. You are free to copy the information for your own use or for other non-commercial purposes with the following language “Source: Maryland's People’s Law Library – © Maryland State Law Library, 2015.”

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