[photo, 151 West St., Annapolis, Maryland] The State Board of Elections was created in 1969 as the State Administrative Board of Election Laws (Chapter 555, Acts of 1969). Upon its creation, the Board assumed all powers and duties formerly vested in the Secretary of State with regards to elections. The Board was renamed the State Board of Elections on January 1, 1999 (Chapter 585, Acts of 1998).

The conduct of voter registration and elections in Maryland is supervised by the Board, which directs, supports, monitors, and evaluates the activities of the boards of elections in each county and Baltimore City. To maximize the use of technology in election administration, the Board also oversees the upgrade and standardization of voting systems and election procedures statewide (Chapter 564, Acts of 2001).

In odd-numbered years, the Board meets with the boards of elections from the counties and Baltimore City to instruct them, their employees, and counsel on their duties in the conduct of elections. The Board also administers the voter registration-by-mail program.

151 West St., Annapolis, Maryland, October 2000. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.

To regulate the financing of campaigns for State and county offices, the Board administers the Fair Election Practices Act (Code Election Law Article, secs. 13-101 through 13-604). In addition, the Board prepares and certifies ballots, administers petitions, and publishes statewide ballot questions before elections.

Voting. Beginning with the 2016 elections, voters will cast their ballots using a paper-based voting system (EVS5.2.00) manufactured by Election Systems & Software (ES&S). This new voting system produces a voter-verifiable paper record - a "paper trail" - of each voter's selections.

Voting options will be different between early voting and election day.

Early Voting. Since 2010, registered voters have been able to cast their ballot in person during early voting or on election day, or by absentee ballot. In 2012, early voting started on the second Saturday before election day and continued each day through the Thursday before election. Early voters may vote at any early voting center in their county. Regular voters, on election day, travel to their assigned polling place.

Online Voter Registration. Since July 2012, the State Board of Elections has made available an Online Voter Registration (OLVR) System. From the Board's website, voters now can register to vote in federal, State, county and municipal elections in Maryland. They also can update their registration to reflect change of name, address, or party affiliation.

In 2002, the federal Help America Vote Act required each state to develop a centralized, interactive computerized, statewide voter registration list. Maryland, in 2006, implemented its database of registered voters, MDVOTERS. In 2011, Maryland laws were enacted allowing the State Board of Elections to exchange voter registration data with other states to improve the accuracy of voter registration lists (Chapter 288 & 299, Acts of 2011).

In May 2012, Maryland became a founding member of the Electronic Registration Information Center, which compiles voter registration and driver's licenses databases from participating states, as well as some federal data. The shared information increases the accuracy of voter registration databases. Besides Maryland, the participating states are Colorado, Delaware, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

Published by the Board, Registration and Election Laws of Maryland is available for sale to the public. Also available are primary and general election returns beginning with 1948. More recent returns are available on-line from the Board.

The Board consists of five members appointed to four-year terms by the Governor with Senate advice and consent. Each member must belong to a principal political party with neither party having more than three or less than two members. Each member appointed by the Governor has been named by the state central committee of the principal political party entitled to the appointment (Chapter 4, Acts of 2005; Code Election Law Article, sec. 2-101).


The State Administrator of Elections is the chief election official for the State. The Administrator oversees the State Board functions, supervises the operations of the local boards, and receives and audits financial reports of candidates required under the Election Code (Code Election Law Article, secs. 13-401 through 13-404).

Appointed by the State Board of Elections with Senate advice and consent, the State Administrator also serves as secretary to the Board of State Canvassers (Code Election Law Article, secs. 2-103, 11-501 through 11-503).


Assisting the State Administrator of Elections is the Deputy Administrator who oversees Administration, including Election Policy, and Project Management. Also under Administration are two divisions: Budget and Finance, and Personnel Services.


Formed in 2012, Election Policy oversees three divisions: Candidacy and Campaign Finance; Election Management; and Voter Registration and Petitions.

The Candidacy and Campaign Finance Division was initiated in 1990. The Division oversees the manner in which candidates and their organizations collect, spend, and report funds as regulated by Maryland's campaign finance laws.

Since 1999, all campaign finance reports must be submitted to the Division in electronic format (Chapter 473, Acts of 1999). The Division provides free electronic-filing software (ELECTrack) and technical assistance to campaign account treasurers. Data from campaign finance reports is compiled by the Division into a master database and made available on the Internet.

The Election Management Division organized in 1998. Functions of the Election Reform Division were merged with the Elections Management Division in February 2013 to form the Election Reform and Management Division.

The Division works to improve the election process for voters, upgrade voting systems, and prepare voting materials for both absentee and provisional ballots. To counties, it also provides election-related supplies, such as polling place signs and other items to make polling places accessible. In addition, the Division helps local boards of elections recruit and train election judges and pollworkers.

Formerly the Voter Registration Division, the Voter Registration and Petitions Division organized in 2004. The Division supervises and coordinates the voter registration activities of local boards of elections, and the reporting of voter registration information from other state agencies. As required by the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, the Division developed an automated, centralized, interactive statewide voter registration database (MDVOTERS), which was implemented in 2006. The Division also conducts voter registration volunteer training, and periodically compiles and makes available voter registration statistics.

Submission of voter petitions for referenda, establishing new political parties, and nominating independent or third party candidates to the ballot, are overseen by the Division.


Formed in 2012, Project Management oversees three divisions: Field Support; Information Technology and Security; and Voting Systems.

The Field Support Division formed in February 2013. The Division provides technical support for voting systems to State and local election officials in administering elections.

The Information Technology and Security Division began as the Computer Technology Division. It reformed as the Information Technology Division in 1999 and received its present name in 2006.

To the State Board and local boards of elections, the Division provides technical support and expertise. It develops technology polices, provides network management, software upgrades, and website enhancements. The Division also monitors and revises security procedures for date back-up and storage, and protection from outside intrusion into electronic data centers. For local boards of elections, it conducts periodic security audits.

The Voting Systems Division began as Election Systems. In 1998, it was renamed Voting Systems, and, in 1999, reformed as Voting Systems and State Procurement. It returned to its present name in 2010. The Division oversees the operation of the statewide uniform computer voting system.

Voting units are tested by the Division which provides them to local boards of elections for use on election day. The Division also oversees the acquisition, upgrade, and use of electronic pollbooks at polling places to verify the names and addresses of eligible voters.

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