Policy Overview:  Elections in Maryland

Elections in Maryland

Statewide elections for federal, State, and county offices and ballot questions are held in Maryland every two years (in even‑numbered years), alternating between presidential and gubernatorial elections, during which the U.S. President and Maryland Governor are elected, respectively. Special elections to fill vacancies in certain offices, held separately from statewide elections (and limited to specific districts or jurisdictions), also occur periodically. The timing of municipal elections, which are predominantly held separate from statewide elections, varies by municipality, resulting in municipal elections occurring at various times throughout the year and in both odd- and even-numbered years.

Governing Law

Statewide and special elections are predominantly governed by State law and municipal elections are predominantly governed by each municipality’s law. Various federal laws also affect elections in the State, including the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act, and the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

Election Administration

Statewide and special elections are administered by the State Board of Elections (SBE) and local boards of elections in each county. SBE (1) establishes policy; (2) supervises and supports the local boards; (3) manages and coordinates statewide election systems and contracts; and (4) administers State campaign finance law applicable to State and county candidates and ballot questions. Local boards perform various functions and are responsible for running the statewide and special elections within their respective counties. Municipal elections are administered by the municipalities, in some cases with assistance from the respective local (county) board and/or SBE.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission is not directly involved in administering elections in the State, but is a federal agency created by the Help America Vote Act that has the mission of (1) helping election officials improve the administration of elections and (2) helping Americans participate in the voting process.

Voting (in Statewide Elections)

In statewide elections, voters can vote by mail-in ballot or in-person at an early voting center or Election Day polling place. Individuals must be registered to vote in order to vote, and various options are available to register, including registering at an early voting center or Election Day polling place just before voting.

See the fact sheet, data dashboards, and State and local boards of elections’ websites (to the left) for more information on elections in the State.