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Voting System FAQ

Q: What is the required length of time for residency for an individual to be a candidate for State Senator or House of Delegates member under a new legislative plan?

A: If the district has been established less than six months prior to the date of the November election, the individual shall reside in the district as long as it has been established. If the district has been established for six months prior to the November election, the individual must reside in the district for six months prior to the date of the November election. See Maryland Constitution, Article III, Section 9 for additional information.

Additionally, the candidate must be a registered voter at the address that satisfies the residence requirement. See Election Law Article, Section 5-202.

Q: Why has Maryland implemented a new voting system?

A: In 2001, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law that required the State Board of Elections, in consultation with the local boards of elections, to select and certify a uniform, statewide voting system. After reviewing the different types of voting systems, the State Board selected a Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting system as the statewide voting system for polling place voting.

A DRE voting system was selected because of the many advantages that it offers over other voting systems. DRE voting systems:
  • Eliminate issues of voter intent
  • Prevent "overvotes" (i.e., when a voter votes for more candidates than allowed)
  • Provide voter with a summary of a voter's selections before casting a ballot
  • Allow most voters with disabilities to vote a secret ballot
  • Offer magnified ballots for voters with low vision
  • Accommodate multiple languages

To comply with the federal Help America Vote of Act of 2002, each polling place in Maryland is required by 2006 to have at least one accessible voting system for voters with disabilities. Implementing a DRE voting system statewide means that all voters - including voters with disabilities - enjoy the advantages of a DRE voting system.

Q: Has Maryland's voting system been tested?

A: Yes. Before a voting system can be used in Maryland, it must pass several tests performed by different entities.

First, Maryland law requires that a voting system must be examined by a federally appointed independent testing authority (ITA) and be shown by the ITA to meet the federal performance and test standards for electronic voting systems. An ITA conducts a comprehensive testing process on the hardware and software of the voting system and performs a review of the source code.

Second, a voting system must be certified for use in Maryland. Certification involves end-to-end testing of the voting system.

Third, after the ballots are loaded on each voting unit, a pre-election test is performed on each voting unit. During this test, elections officials confirm that the results match the expected outcome. After confirmation, the voting units are cleared of all votes and sealed and secured until Election Day.

Lastly, Maryland has implemented a thorough public testing demonstration and parallel testing program. This program will involve randomly selecting voting units and voting scripted ballots to confirm the accuracy of the voting system.

In addition to these tests, multiple security analyses have been performed on Maryland's voting system. While the analyses did recommend that certain steps be taken to further safeguard the voting system, these recommendations were not the result of finding evidence of manipulation or inaccurate tabulation. The implementation of these procedures, in conjunction with the thorough pre-election testing, has further reduced the likelihood of a technical malfunction or tampering with a unit occurring without detection.

Q: How is the voting unit accessible to voters with disabilities?

A: Unlike other voting systems, DRE voting systems allow most voters with disabilities to vote a secret ballot. The State's voting system accommodates voters with disabilities by offering:
  • An audio ballot. Using headphones, the voter listens to the ballot and records the vote using a keypad. Both the headphones and keypad are provided. To assure the privacy of the voter, the voting unit's screen is blank while the audio ballot feature is being used.
  • A magnified ballot for voters who have low vision.
  • A high contrast ballot for voters with visual impairments.
  • An adjustable screen to accommodate voters who prefer or need to sit while voting.

To use an audio ballot just ask an election judge for the particular option. You will not be required to provide an explanation or fill out additional paperwork. Election judges will be available to answer questions and, if needed, provide assistance.

If you need assistance voting, you may select someone to assist in the voting process. Maryland law prohibits a voter's employer or agent of the employer or an officer or agent of the voter's union from serving as a voter's assistant. An election judge may assist a voter, but only in the presence of another election judge of a different political

Q: If I make a mistake or change my mind, can I correct my ballot?

A: Yes, as long as you have not pressed the "Cast Ballot" button. If you change your mind after making a selection, just re-touch your prior selection and make a new selection. The voting system will prevent you from voting for more candidates than is allowed but will allow you vote for fewer candidates than allowed or skip a contest completely.

When you have finished voting all contests, a summary or review page will appear. This is your opportunity to review your selections for each contest. If you did not vote - intentionally or unintentionally - for a particular contest, that contest will appear in red. To vote for that contest, simply press the red box, and the ballot page with the unvoted contest will appear. You can then make your selection for that contest.

When you have finished making your selections and reviewing your ballot, press the "Cast Ballot" button. Remember, you cannot change your votes after you have pressed the "Cast Ballot" button so make sure you have reviewed your ballot before pressing the button.

Q:How is my vote protected?

A:Your vote is protected in many ways. The same dedicated and trusted election officials that have conducted elections in Maryland for years are still conducting our elections. While the computers on which votes are recorded and tabulated are important, the election officials administering the elections are equally important. Maryland's election officials are committed public servants who fully believe in the democratic process and the right of every individual to exercise the right to vote. Their integrity is beyond reproach.

In addition to the election officials, physical access to the voting system is restricted. Prior to an election, the voting units are stored in a locked warehouse and only authorized individuals can enter the warehouse. Only election officials who have had a criminal background check are able to access the election database.

The voting units are sealed until Election Day morning when they are opened by sworn, bipartisan election judges. Election judges confirm that there is tamper tape covering access to the compartment with the power button and memory card. During Election Day, election judges ensure that only registered voters use the voting equipment and continuously monitor voting. Throughout the day, election judges compare the number of voters recorded as voting against the number of votes cast on the voting units and would identify any discrepancies immediately.

After the polls close, election judges compare the vote totals generated by the voting units against the voter turnout totals recorded by the election judges. A sworn, bi-partisan team of election judges transports the memory cards to the election office. During transit, the voting units are again sealed, and access to the memory cards is restricted to specific election officials.

Q: How will the new system prevent people from voting more than once?

A: Both voter check-in procedures and the voting system prevent a voter from voting more than once. Election judges check in every individual wishing to vote by confirming that the individual is registered to vote and the voter's identity. The election judges record that the voter voted. If the same individual returned later in the day to vote, the election judge would immediately know that the individual already voted.

To vote, an election judge gives a voter a voter access card. This card tells the voting unit which ballot to load and only allows one ballot to load. Once the voter presses the "Cast Ballot" button, the voter access card ejects. If a voter tries to reinsert the card after voting, an "invalid card" error is displayed, the card is ejected, and no ballot is loaded.

Q: Does the new voting system have a paper trail?

A: Yes. Each voting unit prints a report before the polls open confirming that there are no votes on the voting unit. After the polls close, another report is printed showing the results from that voting unit. Additionally, in case of a recount, ballot images can be printed from the election database. These ballot images can be manually recounted without being attributable to any particular voter.

The voting system does not, however, provide a voter-verified paper trail. The State Board of Elections conducted a study on voter-verified paper trail and other voter verification technologies. The findings of the study are that these solutions are not ready for implementation.

Q: What would happen if there is a power failure on Election Day?

A: Voting would continue, and no votes would be lost. Each voting unit has a back-up battery, and each battery is fully charged when the polls open. If, for any reason, the battery cannot provide sufficient power, no additional voting would occur on that particular unit but all votes previously cast would be stored on the unit.

Q: Where do I go to vote?

A: Your polling place location is printed on your Voter Notification Card. If you do not have your Voter Notification Card, please visit the Polling Place Look-up.