Types of Election Judges

Chief Judge

In each precinct, a Democratic and Republican Chief Judge is appointed. These individuals on Election Day are employees of the Election Board who share equally the responsibility of operating the polling place.


  • Chief Judges must be sure to:
  • Pick up the supplies needed to conduct election day business
  • Must have reliable transportation
  • Hold a meeting of all Judges the Monday night before an election
  • Check that machines are delivered and the telephone is operating in the polling room
  • Open the polling place on time
  • Guarantee that all procedures are followed in the polling place on election day
  • Supervise the precinct tally of votes cast after the close of the poll
  • Ensure that all forms are properly completed
  • Return the supplies and canvass report to the Election Office


Should a question arise as to the way voting progressed in a precinct, both Chief Election Judges are held accountable.

Election Judge

Those assisting the Chief Judge in a polling place are called Election Judges. The number assigned to each precinct is determined by the number of registered voters in the precinct.


All Judges must assist the Chief Judges in opening the polling place and canvassing the results of the day's vote.  They are under the direct supervision of the Chief Judges.  Additionally, all judges are divided into interchangeable roles which include: 

  • Check-In Judges greet voters and verify that each individual attempting to vote is properly registered.
  • Voting Judges verify that voters have the correct style of ballot.  Directs voter traffic to the area where they will vote and cast their ballots.
  • Ballot Issuance Judges manage and maintain control of ballots.  Issue appropriate ballot style to voters.
  • Scanning Unit Judges monitor and permit access to the scanning unit where voters cast their vote.  Provide instruction (if necessary) on how the voter will use the equipment.

Provisional Judge

A Provisional Ballot Judge is assigned to each precinct. This judge is responsible for administering the provisional voting process in the precinct.

Purpose & Responsibility

Under federal law, every voter who claims to be registered and eligible to vote must be given an opportunity to vote. A paper ballot must be issued to a voter claiming to be properly registered and whose qualification or entitlement to vote cannot be immediately established upon examination of the precinct register. The Provisional Judge is under the direct supervision of the Chief Judges.

Alternate Election Judge

The individual appointed as an Alternate Election Judge plays a vital part in the election process. All Judges must be appointed months before an election. With about 7 months between the Presidential Primary and General Election, many things could occur (such as illness, family issues, or a change in business responsibility) to cause an appointed Judge to request a release from his or her obligation. Alternates step in when these occurrences happen.


An Alternate Election Judge receives the same training as a Book Judge or a Machine Judge.


The Election Office may call upon an individual serving in this capacity to fill a vacancy prior to an election or Election Day itself. Alternate Election Judges must be available until 7:30 a.m. on Election Day. It is important that one accept appointment as an Alternate Judge only if he or she intends to be available should the need arise to serve.

Closing Judge

This judge must be reliable and is responsible for transporting important election material from the polling precinct to the Board of Election on election night.

The judge will report to work at the assigned precinct on election night at 6 p.m. and work until approximately 11 p.m.

This individual must be a registered voter in the state of Maryland and have a valid driver's license. Closing judges must be willing to share or drive with another judge from the polling precinct to the Board of Elections.