WASHINGTON – Just a few days remain for Maryland residents to request absentee ballots to vote in the upcoming presidential primary. Voters must complete the application by Tuesday in order to choose their party’s nominees for president and Congress or vote for other officials in the Feb. 12 election. This year offers absentee voters a unique ability to influence Maryland’s election results. Both presidential primaries are considered winnable by the frontrunners. The race in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, a rematch of 2006’s primary with Rep. Al Wynn and Donna Edwards that was determined by 3-point margin, is again a tossup. In the general election of 2006, absentee ballots reached a record high due to state recommendations by politicians that voters avoid potentially faulty electronic voting machines. In that election, they were 8.8 percent of the overall vote. More typically, in primaries, they make up 3 to 5 percent of the total vote.
For the 2008 election, absentee ballots can be obtained by calling the Board of Elections or by printing it from their Web site, www.elections.state.md.us. Mailed applications must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 5, and faxed applications must be received by 11:49 p.m. that evening. The absentee ballot must be postmarked by Feb. 12 and received not later than Feb. 22. People with disabilities can get help from eligible individuals who complete a portion of the absentee ballot application. Voters who need assistance picking up or delivering their absentee ballot can complete a “Designation of Agent” form provided by the Board of Elections. Voters that have an “Id. Required” stamp on the return absentee ballot envelope are required to submit identification with their absentee ballot. Between Feb. 6 and until the polls close at 8 p.m. on Feb. 12, voters can complete a “Late Application for Absentee Ballot” in-person at the board of elections. For more information, voters should contact their local board of elections or the Maryland State Board of Elections.