Article - Election Law
(a) (1) Each local board shall meet at its designated counting center to canvass the absentee ballots cast in that election in accordance with the regulations and guidelines established by the State Board.
(2) Promptly after receipt of an absentee ballot, a local board shall review the ballot envelope or ballot/return envelope for the omission of the voter’s signature on the oath.
(3) A local board shall record the receipt of an absentee ballot in the statewide voter registration system and make the information available through the free access system established under COMAR 33.11.06.03 as soon as practicable, but not later than:
(i) 2 business days after receipt of an absentee ballot provided by mail; or
(ii) 4 business days after receipt of an absentee ballot provided through the Internet or by facsimile transmission.
(b) (1) (i) Except as provided in subparagraph (ii) of this paragraph and subject to paragraph (4) of this subsection, a local board shall begin processing absentee ballots on the day that is 8 business days before the first day of early voting.
(ii) The State Administrator may grant a waiver to a local board from the requirement under subparagraph (i) of this paragraph if the local board seeks a determination by the State Administrator that early canvassing is not:
1. necessary due to the low number of absentee ballots received by the local board; or
2. practicable due to limited resources or other constraints on the local board.
(2) A local board may not delay the commencement of the canvass to await the receipt of late–arriving, timely absentee ballots.
(3) A local board may conduct vote tallying when absentee ballots are processed under paragraph (1)(i) of this subsection.
(4) (i) A local board or an employee of a local board may not conduct absentee ballot vote tabulation before the polls open on election day.
(ii) A local board may not release absentee ballot vote totals before the polls close on election day.
(c) (1) An absentee ballot shall be deemed timely received if it is received in accordance with the regulations and guidelines established by the State Board.
(2) An absentee ballot that is received after the deadline specified by the regulations and guidelines may not be counted.
(d) (1) The State Board shall adopt regulations that reflect the policy that the clarity of the intent of the voter is the overriding consideration in determining the validity of an absentee ballot or the vote cast in a particular contest.
(2) Subject to § 11–303.2 of this subtitle, a local board may not reject an absentee ballot except by unanimous vote and in accordance with regulations of the State Board.
(3) The local board shall reject an absentee ballot if:
(i) the voter failed to sign the oath on the ballot envelope or ballot/return envelope and failed to correct the omission before 10 a.m. on the day that is 10 days after election day;
(ii) the local board received more than one ballot from the same individual for the same election in the same ballot envelope; or
(iii) the local board determines that an absentee ballot is intentionally marked with an identifying mark that is clearly evident and placed on the ballot for the purpose of identifying the ballot.
(4) (i) The State Board shall adopt regulations requiring a local board:
1. as soon as practicable but not later than 3 business days after the date on which it was determined that a voter failed to sign the oath on the ballot envelope or ballot/return envelope, to notify the voter of the failure; and
2. to provide the voter an opportunity to correct the omission and have the ballot counted.
(ii) The regulations under this paragraph shall allow a voter:
1. to supply a signature to the local board through a digital picture message sent by mobile telephone or e–mail if the voter failed to sign the oath on the ballot envelope or ballot/return envelope; and
2. to choose among multiple methods of communicating with the local board to correct the failure to sign the oath on the ballot envelope or ballot/return envelope, including:
A. text message;
C. an accessible online portal;
D. a mailed form; and
E. an in–person visit to the local board office.
(5) If the intent of the voter is not clearly demonstrated, the local board shall reject only the vote for that office or question.
(6) If an absentee voter casts a vote for an individual who has ceased to be a candidate, the vote for that candidate may not be counted, but that vote does not invalidate the remainder of the ballot.
(e) Beginning after the polls close on election day, at the end of each day of canvassing, a local board shall prepare and release a report of the unofficial returns of the absentee ballot vote tabulation.