Maryland Resources for Voters with Disabilities

What are my rights as a voter with a disability in Maryland?

In Maryland, you have the right to the following as protected by federal law. Election staff must respect these rights:

  • Accessible voter registration
  • Accessible polling places
  • Policies and procedures that do not discriminate against you based on your disability
  • Accessible, available, and operational voting systems, features
  • Your service animal to accompany you inside the polling place
  • The right to vote privately and independently or with assistance, if needed
  • Assistance from a person of choice, who can be a friend, family member, or poll worker (but not your boss, union agent, or a candidate unless this person is your family member)
  • Election Staff trained to understand the rights above

In Maryland, you also have the right to:  

  • Vote at an early voting center in the county where you live
  • Vote by absentee ballot
  • Vote by an accessible voting machine
  • Cast your ballot, and have it count, if you are in line when the polls close
Who can register to vote?

You can vote in U.S. federal, state, and local elections if you are a US citizen, 18 years old on or before Election Day. You must also meet your state’s residency and registration requirements.

To register in Maryland, you must be: 

  • A citizen of the United States of America
  • At least 17 and will be turning 18 on or before Election Day 
  • A resident of the city or county for at least 30 days
  • If you are a student, unhoused, a survivor of intimate partner violence with related concerns, or living with a mental or physical impairment, you may still register and vote

In Maryland, you may not register or vote if:

  • a court order has taken away your right to vote, unless your right has been restored 
  • Are currently incarcerated for a felony conviction  
  • You claim the right to vote elsewhere
What are my rights when registering to vote?

Federal law requires assistance in registering to vote from offices that provide public assistance or state-funded programs serving people with disabilities. Responsibilities include:

  • Providing voter registration forms
  • Assisting voters in completing the forms
  • Transmitting completed forms to the appropriate election official
  • All aspects of voter registration must be accessible
What are the different ways to vote in Maryland?
  • Early Voting
  • In person on Election Day
  • Mail-in ballots
  • While abroad as a citizen or military through an absentee ballot request
  • Provisional ballot at a polling place
What are the ways to request and return a Mail-in (Absentee) Ballot in Maryland?

Any registered voter may vote by mail-in ballot..

  • Complete your mail-in ballot request form (also available in Spanish).
  • You may make your request with these options:
    • by mail
    • by fax
    • by email (scanned as an attachment)
    • in person at your local board of elections
  • Return your completed ballot to vote with theses options 
    • by mail (postmarked by the election deadline)
    • at a secure voter drop box
    • at an early voting center by 8pm on days they are open
    • at your polling location by 8pm on Election Day
    • in person at your local board of elections by 8pm on Election Day

If you want to receive a mail-in ballot for every election, you can do so while requesting a mail-in ballot.

Note: Maryland refers to all absentee ballots as mail-in ballots.  This is the same thing as no-excuse absentee voting in other states.

How is the Maryland mail-in or absentee ballot process made accessible for voters with print disabilities?
  • Maryland offers an online tool to help mark your ballot independently. With this tool, most voters with disabilities can make selections without help.
    • To use this online tool, request a mail-in ballot online 
    • You will receive an email with a link to a ballot you can use with an online ballot marking device (BMD) to mark your ballot
    • You must print your ballot, so access to a printer is necessary
    • You will also need an envelope to return your ballot
      • postage is required if you return your ballot by mail to your local board of elections office
      • postage is not required if you return your ballot by hand to a secure voter drop box or your local board of elections office
    • Ballots sent to you by email cannot be returned on-line or by email
       
  • If you need help, you can also contact your local election official.
What accommodations are available for voters with disabilities at polling locations in Maryland?

Federal law requires polling places to meet minimum compliance standards for individuals with special needs. 

  • The Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984 (VAEHA) requires accessible polling places in federal elections for elderly individuals and people with disabilities. Where no accessible location is available to serve as a polling place, voters must be provided an alternate means of voting in person on Election Day.
     
  • The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) requires at least one accessible voting system for persons with disabilities at each polling place in federal elections.  The accessible voting system must provide the same opportunity for access and participation, including privacy and independence, that other voters receive. 

If you want to check that your polling location meets these standards or find an alternative polling location, contact your local election official.

In Maryland, 

  • All of the early voting centers in Maryland are accessible to voters with disabilities.
  • An accessible ballot marking device is available at all voting locations, in early voting centers, and polling places.
    • Accessible voting machines use headsets and keypads, audio controls, high contrast functions, large print features, and sip and puff accessories.
       
  • A voter can be assisted, by someone of their choice or by two election judges
What are the rules of assistance for disabled voters in Maryland?
  • You can bring someone to help you vote as long as that person is not:
    • Your employer or an agent of your employer
    • An officer or agent of your union
    • A challenger or watcher
       
  • Or, you may choose to have two election judges help you.

The person helping you must sign the Voter Assistance Form and cannot suggest how you should vote.

How can I prepare to use accessible voting equipment in Maryland prior to Election Day?

Maryland uses ExpressVote. You can read this info sheet about how to use an accessible ballot marking device.  The device is available at all voting locations in early voting centers and polling places.  The accessible voting device is also:

  • Compatible with headset and keypad
  • Compatible with other assistive devices (like sip and puff)
  • Useable with high contrast and large print functions

If you want to use the audio ballot, ask an election judge. Election judges will answer questions and help you, if needed.

Who do I contact if I have problems when voting in Maryland?
  • If you have voting issues or would like to share your voting experience, please contact Disability Rights Maryland. Disability Rights Maryland has resources for voting such as a Voting Rights Action Plan available in English or Spanish. You can reach them:
  • You can contact your local board of elections
  • You can email Election Management and Reform at the State Board of Elections.
  • You can also fill out a Violation of Civil Rights Complaint Form and submit it to the US Department of Justice by one of the following methods:
    • Online, through the form’s submission process - this is the fastest method.
    • By fax at (202) 616-9881. You MUST include “ATTN: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Complaints" at the top of your fax submission for it to be processed correctly.
    • By mailing your form to: 

                 U.S. Department of Justice
                 Office of the Inspector General Investigations Division
                 ATTN: Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Complaints
                 950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
                 Washington, DC 20530