General Requirements of the Act
Voting System Standards
The Help America Vote Act establishes minimum standards for voting systems. With the implementation of Maryland’s current voting system in all 24 counties, Maryland met the minimum voting system standards required by the Act.
Provisional VotingProvisional voting is a “fail safe” voting procedure that reduces the number of voters who are turned away from the polls without voting. At the polls, a voter may declare that he or she is eligible to vote but either his or her name fails to appear on the official list of eligible voters or an election official asserts that the individual is not eligible to vote. With provisional ballots, this voter is issued a provisional ballot, and the determination as to whether to count the ballot is made after election day.
The Help America Vote Act also requires that each state develop a free access system that any individual who casts a provisional ballot may access to determine whether the provisional ballot was accepted, and if not, why the ballot was not accepted. In Maryland, a voter can determine whether his or her provisional ballot application was accepted by searching the on-line database or by calling 1-800-222-8683.
Statewide Voter Registration System
The Help America Vote Act requires a “single, uniform, official, centralized, interactive computerized statewide voter registration list defined, maintained, and administered at the State level.” After a competitive procurement, Maryland issued a contract for the customization, implementation, and maintenance of a compliant voter registration system to Saber Consulting, LLC. The system has been used since December 2005 and is now maintained by the Canton Group.
Voter Registration Application Processing Requirements
As of January 1, 2006, the Help America Vote Act requires that an individual applying to register to vote must provide his or her driver's license number on the voter registration application. If the applicant does not have a driver's license number, he or she must provide at least the last four digits of his or her social security number on the application. If the applicant has neither a driver's license nor a social security number, the applicant must indicate this on the application, and an election official will assign the individual a unique identifying number.
The Act also requires that the State verify the applicant's driver's license number or social security number. This verification occurs with Maryland's Motor Vehicle Administration and the U.S. Social Security Administration.
New Voter Registration Requirements
As of January 1, 2006, two new voter registration requirements went into effect.
- All individuals applying to register to vote must provide a driver's license number or MVA ID card number on the application. If the applicant does not have a driver's license or MVA ID card, he or she must provide at least the last four digits of his or her social security number. An individual that does not have either number can indicate this on the voter registration application.
- Election officials are required to verify the driver's license or MVA ID card number or social security number.
Identification RequirementsUnder the Help America Vote Act, certain voters must satisfy an identification requirement before voting for the first time in Maryland. A voter is subject to this new identification requirement if the voter:
- Registered to vote by mail; and
- Will be voting for the first time in Maryland.
Because of the voter registration requirements effective January 1, 2006 (see above), most voters will satisfy the identification during the registration process. Generally, only the following voters will be subject to the identification requirement:
- Those voters who do not have a driver's license, MVA ID card, or social security card and who submitted their voter registration applications by mail after January 1, 2006; and
- Those voters who registered to vote by mail between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2005, and have not yet voted for the first time.
These voters can satisfy the identification requirement by providing one of the following:
- The voter’s driver's license number, MVA ID card number or the last four digits of the voter’s social security number, and election officals will attempt to verify this information with MVA or Social Security Administration.
- A copy of a current and valid photo identification (i.e., Maryland driver's license, MVA ID card, student or employee photo ID card, military ID card, passport, or any other State or federal goverment issued ID card).
- A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows the voter’s name and address.
If a voter does not satisfy the identification requirement prior to voting, the voter will be required to present identification before voting for the first time.
Voting Information Requirements
The Help America Vote Act requires that certain information be posted at each voting location. The following information must be posted:
- A sample ballot;
- Information regarding the date of the election and the hours during which the polls are open;
- Instructions on how to vote, including how to cast a vote and how to cast a provisional ballot;
- Instructions for mail-in registrants who must provide identification;
- General information on voting rights, including information on the right of an individual to cast a provisional ballot and instructions on how to contact the appropriate officials if these rights are alleged to have been violated; and
- General information on federal and state laws regarding prohibitions on acts of fraud and misrepresentation.