New System Launched Providing Greater Access and Printing Capability for Absentee Ballots

As reported by Megan Poinski of MarylandReporter, the University of Maryland’s Center for American Politics and Citizenship launched a new system last week that will allow voters to access and print out absentee ballots online.

The new system uses technology to make the old way of getting absentee ballots easier – as well as making online absentee ballots easier to handle by elections staff at local boards.

To use the system, a voter first needs to go to the State Board of Elections and download an application to vote absentee.  Once completed, the application can be e-mailed, faxed, mailed, or hand-delivered to the voter’s local elections office.

When the application is processed, the voter will receive an e-mail with a unique passcode, which will be used to access the absentee ballot. To get it, the voter needs to log in to the Maryland Election Center’s voter verification system – which requires a first name, last name, zip code and birth date. Once the voter is logged into the system, he or she will be able to input the passcode and then access his or her ballot.

After using the interactive ballot form on the computer to vote, the voter will be able to print out the absentee ballot, along with a declaration verifying his or her identity that must be signed, Charlebois said. The envelope that the system prints out includes customized addresses – both for the local board of elections site where the ballot needs to go, and the voter’s return address. Under federal law, if the voter is in the military or overseas, the envelope will also include prepaid postage.

The Center for American Politics and Citizenship works in partnership with the State Board of Elections and operates the Maryland Elections Center.

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