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Rumor Control for the 2020 Election

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency's Rumor Control


Electoral College

Rumor: At the Electoral College, electors can support a presidential candidate that did not win the plurality of the vote in Maryland.

Fact: In Maryland, electors must vote for the presidential candidate that won the plurality of the vote in Maryland. This is required by State law.

Each political party picks 10 voters to serve as electors, and each elector casts one vote for President during a formal meeting called the Electoral College. The Electoral College meeting is held nationwide on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December. On December 14, 2020, Maryland’s electors will meet at the State House in Annapolis.

The so-called “faithless elector” - that is, an elector who votes for a different candidate - is not allowed in Maryland. Recently, the United States Supreme Court in Chiafalo v. Washington upheld the constitutionality of law preventing faithless electors.


Emails ending in @marylandelections.us

Rumor: If a voter receives an email about his or her mail-in ballot that ends in @marylandelections.us, this email is not from the State Board of Elections and should be discarded.

Fact:  Emails ending in @maryland.gov and @marylandelections.us are legitimate. They are both email domain names that our agency uses.  For example, if a voter receives an email from absentee3.sbe@marylandelections.us, that is one of the emails we use to send information to voters that requested a mail-in ballot. It is important that voters make sure these emails are not filtered into a SPAM folder to ensure they see the email containing information about their mail-in ballot.


Mail-in Ballots

Rumor: The purple stripe on the mail-in ballot envelopes indicate my political party affiliation.

Fact: The mail-in ballot envelope design is based on best practice guidelines for election mail design for easy recognition and priority handling. The color stripe is used statewide in Maryland and does not indicate political party affiliation.

Rumor: I can bring the ballot I received in the mail or email and cast it during early voting or on election day.

Fact: You can't cast a ballot received by mail or email at a voting center. If you received a ballot in the mail or via email, you must either vote and return that ballot or vote a provisional ballot during early voting or on election day.

Election officials perform audits throughout the entire election process. One of the audits they perform compares the number of ballots issued against the number of ballots counted. If voters are allowed to to "trade in" the ballot they received in the mail or email or cast their mail-in ballot at an early voting center or election day vote center, this audit and other reconciliations could not be performed.

Rumor: I received a ballot by mail or email and can "trade it" to vote in person.

Fact: You can't "trade in" the ballot you received by mail or email and cast the ballot during early voting or on election day. If you requested a ballot and want to vote in person, you will have to vote a provisional ballot. An election judge will give you a provisional ballot application and a ballot to vote. Your voted ballot will be placed and sealed inside the application envelope and will be counted as long as you don't return the ballot you received by mail or email.

Rumor: There is a tracking number on each ballot.

Fact: There is not a tracking number on each ballot. There is a tracking number associated with each ballot packet, but not the ballot. The only barcode on the ballot is one used to make sure the correct ballot style is matched to the correct voter. Click here to learn more about the barcodes and other numbers on your ballot packet.

Rumor: Adding a stamp to your return envelope means your ballot will be returned via first class mail.

Fact: If you use the envelope that comes with your ballot, it will be returned via first class mail. You don't need to add a stamp for your ballot to go via first class mail - it's already going via first class mail.


Ballot Drop Boxes

Rumor: The ballot drop off boxes are operated and maintained by the United States Postal Services.

Fact: They are operated and maintained by the local election officials. Ballot drop off boxes are monitored and secured by trusted election officials. Ballots are retrieved from the boxes at least twice daily by election officials. The drop off boxes are not property of the United States Postal Service.


Wrong Election Information on Social Media?

Rumor: There are posts on social media displaying incorrect election information.

Fact: That could be true. Always follow the Maryland State Board of Elections on Facebook at @MarylandStateBoardofElections or on Twitter at @md_sbe. We will always post accurate election-related information on social media. Contact us at info.sbe@maryland.gov to report incorrect election-related information on social media, such as:

  • Election dates and times
  • Polling place locations and hours
  • Early Voting locations and hours
  • Voter identification requirements
  • Voter registration eligibility requirements or methods
  • Absentee voting and ballot return requirements
  • Whether a vote will be counted
  • Voting process

Mail-in and Provisional Ballots

Rumor: Mail-in ballots and provisional ballots only count if the election is close.

Fact: Mail-in ballot and provisional ballots are always counted, even if they do not change the outcome of an election. You can learn more about absentee voting and provisional voting on our website.


Taking Pictures or Recording Videos

Rumor: I can take pictures or record a video in a voting room.

Fact: No. Under State law, voters can't take pictures or record a video in a voting room. Voters are not allowed to use electronic devices - including phones or tablets - in a voting room.


Changing Your Mind?

Rumor: I already voted but changed my mind.  I can vote again.

Fact: Once you have cast your ballot, you can't vote again. Voting more than once violates State law.

If you vote again, you will have to vote a provisional ballot. This ballot will not be counted because you have already voted and you will be referred to an law enforcement agency for further investigation and possible prosecution.


Vote Confirmation

Rumor: When I vote, I get a receipt or confirmation of my vote.

Fact: To preserve the secrecy of your vote, you will not get a receipt or confirmation of your vote.

Before scanning your paper ballot, review your ballot. Make sure you voted for all of the contests you want to vote for and are satisfied with your selections.

If you are happy with your selections, scan your ballot into the scanning unit. When the scanning unit has counted your ballot, you will see "thank you for voting" message. If the scanning unit can't read your ballot for some reason, the unit will return the ballot and provide instructions on the screen. You can also check that the scanning unit has counted your ballot by looking at the counter on the scanning unit's screen. Look at the count before and after you scan your ballot. You see the count go up by one. This means that the scanning unit has counted your ballot.

Each scanner is tested before the election. After local election officials have verified that the scanners counts properly, the scanner is locked and sealed. Before voting begins, election officials verify the seal and open the scanner. ​


Security of Election Systems in Maryland

Rumor: Election systems are not secure.

Fact: We've read the recent news articles about the security of election systems and want to share how we secure Maryland's election systems. Simply put, Maryland's election systems are secure, have built-in redundancies, and have been subject to security testing.

We are now using a paper-based voting system. This means that there is a paper record of every vote cast, and these ballots can be retabulated if needed. The voting equipment is never connected to the Internet. The network used to generate official election results is never connected to the Internet. Physical access to the network is restricted and limited to election officials - all of whom have had a security background check - and all network transactions are logged. More information on the security features and practices for Maryland's voting system is available here.

We use other systems to administer the election process, but these systems are not part of the voting casting or counting process. Two frequently discussed systems are voter registration databases and online voter registration systems. The voter registration database is the system where voter registration information, voting history, absentee voting requests, and other data is stored. An online voter registration system is a web-based system voters use to submit a new voter registration application, submit updated voter registration information, or request an absentee ballot. While these systems are connected to the Internet, access is via a secure network, all data is encrypted, and the systems are continuously monitored and audited. More information on the security features and practices of Maryland's voter registration systems is available here.


Vote Flipping

Rumor: I voted for Candidate A, but my vote flipped to Candidate B.

Fact: Most voters in Maryland will use a paper ballot to vote. With paper ballots, a vote for Candidate A cannot "flip" to Candidate B.

Some voters will use the accessible ballot marking device to make selections and print a paper ballot. Each device is tested before election day, and the test includes checking that the device's screen is properly calibrated.


College Students

Rumor: A college student can only register to vote at his or her parents' address.

Fact: A college student may register at his or her school address if the student considers the school address to be his or her “official” or “permanent” home. If you are a college student and do not not consider your parent’s home to be your home and do not intend to return there after school, your school address may be your residence. Before registering to vote at this address, please verify with the appropriate authority whether changing your residency impacts your eligibility for financial aid. Read more about this.


Mail-in Ballot Request

Rumor: If you request a mail-inballot, you can vote in person.

Fact: You can vote in person, but you must vote a provisional ballot. Your provisional ballot will count if you do not also vote and return your mail-in ballot.


Early Voting and Mail-in Ballot Votes

Rumor: Early votes and mail-in ballot votes are not counted unless there is a tie in an election.

Fact: All votes cast during early voting are counted. All mail-in ballots submitted on time with the required signature are counted even if they will not change the outcome of an election. Votes cast during early voting and by mail-in ballot count just like votes cast on election day.


Early Voting Ballots

Rumor: If I vote during early voting, I will not receive the same ballot as the one I would receive on election day and therefore my ballot will not be counted.

Fact: You will receive the same ballot whether you are voting during early voting, on election day or by absentee ballot. Your ballot is always determined by your residential address.


Proof of Voting

Rumor: To prove you voted, you will get a second copy of the form you sign when you check in to vote.

Fact: Upon request, a pollworker will give you a form to prove that you voted, but the form will be different from the form you sign when you check in to vote. If you need proof that you voted, please ask a pollworker.


Election Results

Rumor: Election judges will not post election results once the polls close.

Fact: During early voting, election results will not be posted. The local boards of elections will post these results after the polls close on election day.

​On election day, election judges will post results once the polls close.​ Election results will also be available from SBE and the local boards of elections.​


Online Voting in Maryland

Rumor: Voters can submit voted ballots online.

FACT: A voter who receives a mail-in ballot from SBE's website must return the ballot by mail or ballot drop off box.