33.11.03.06

.06 Return of Ballot.

A. Date Stamp Return Envelope.

(1) Except as provided in ┬žA(2) of this regulation, whenever an absentee ballot is received by a local board office, the election director shall stamp the return envelope with the date received.

(2) The election director shall:

(a) Stamp the return envelope with the date received if the local board received the return envelope on the day before the election or any day thereafter; and

(b) Store the return envelopes in a container labeled with the date the ballots were received.

B. Ballots Returned Without Return Envelope. If an absentee ballot is returned in an envelope other than the envelope provided by the local board and the envelope was opened during the normal process of opening mail, the election director shall immediately:

(1) Tape the envelope closed;

(2) Initial the tape and write "Absentee" on the envelope; and

(3) Stamp the envelope with the date received.

C. Ballots Returned Without a Signed Oath.

(1) Except as provided in §C(3) of this regulation, if an absentee ballot is timely received but the voter did not sign the required oath, the election director shall:

(a) Promptly notify the voter that the voter did not sign the oath; and

(b) Explain how the voter can provide a signed oath and when the signed oath must be received for the voter's ballot to be accepted.

(2) Method of Notification.

(a) The election director shall notify the voter using the voter's preferred method of communication, as indicated on the voter's form, to request the ballot.

(b) If the notice is not delivered using the voter's preferred method of communication, the election director shall use another means to notify the voter.

(3) If an absentee ballot is timely received on or after the second Wednesday after an election (and the ballot was otherwise completed and mailed on or before election day, as established by Regulation .08B(2)(b) of this chapter, the election director shall make reasonable efforts to comply with §C(1) and (2) of this regulation.

D. Ballots Returned to Wrong Election Office.

(1) If an absentee ballot is received by the wrong election office, that office shall immediately:

(a) Stamp the envelope with the date received; and

(b) Send the ballot to the appropriate local board office, with the ballot envelope unopened and, except for the date stamp, unmarked and unchanged in any way.

(2) The date stamped on the envelope under §C(1)(a) of this regulation is the official date of receipt of that ballot.

E. Ballots in Return Envelope with Request for Personal Identification Information. A return envelope marked with a request for personal identification information shall be considered a provisional ballot and canvassed under COMAR 33.16.05.

F. Ballots Returned at an Early Voting Center or Polling Place. Whenever an absentee ballot is received at an early voting center or polling place, a chief judge or designee shall:

(1) Instruct the voter to put the voted absentee ballot into the absentee ballot bag;

(2) Ensure the security of the absentee ballot bag; and

(3) Return the absentee ballot bag to the local board of elections at the end of voting hours each day of early voting and on election day.

G. Ballots Returned at a Designated Ballot-Return Location.

(1) A voter can return a voted ballot at a ballot drop box designated by the local board to serve as ballot-return locations.

(2) The ballot drop box shall:

(a) Be designed to prevent an individual from accessing voted ballots once deposited;

(b) Include a statement that tampering with ballots is a crime; and

(c) Include the State Board's phone number.

(3) The local board shall retrieve ballots and any other election materials according to chain of custody procedures issued by the State Administrator.