Early voting begins today: Here's what you need to know

If you plan to vote early in Maryland’s election, these answers to frequently asked questions will help you head to the polls:

When is the early voting period?

Early voting for the general election runs Thursday, Oct. 25, through Nov. 1. Polls are open each day, including Saturday and Sunday. According to the State Board of Elections, the first day and last two days are the busiest times to vote. The weekend days typically have the least traffic.

What are the hours to vote early?

The polls will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. In past elections, lines have formed in the morning but have dwindled as the day goes on.

Where can I go for early voting in Carroll County?

There will be two early voting locations in Carroll County: the Westminster Senior and Community Center, at 125 Stoner Ave. in Westminster, and the South Carroll Swim Club, at 1900 W. Liberty Road near Winfield.

Who can vote early?

As of Saturday, Oct. 20, there were 3,954,027 eligible, active voters on the rolls for this election in Maryland — a number that is expected to grow throughout the period of early voting and same-day registration.

All are eligible to vote early unless they have cast an absentee ballot.

Can I register at early voting sites?

Yes. Any eligible voter who is not yet registered may sign up at early voting sites and cast a ballot the same day.

Will I need ID?

Generally speaking, no. Some people who are voting for the first time in Maryland, as well as those registering at early voting sites, will be asked to show identification. Valid forms of ID include a state-issued driver’s license or ID card; a change-of-address card; your paycheck, bank statement or utility bill, or another government document with your name and current address.

Who — and what — is on the ballot?

The statewide races are for governor, attorney general and the U.S. Senate. There are also two statewide ballot questions. Other races include Maryland’s eight U.S. House seats and the General Assembly seats.

In Carroll County, there are contested races for county commissioner, Judge of the Circuit Court, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Judge of the Orphan’s Court and the nonpartisan Board of Education.

How will I cast a vote?

You will mark a paper ballot by hand, using the pen provided you to fill in the ovals next to your choices. After reviewing your choices, you will place your ballot in a privacy sleeve and take it to a scanner. An election worker will direct you to insert your ballot into the scanner to record your vote.

How popular is early voting?

Early voting has clearly taken hold in Maryland since it was introduced in 2010. During this year’s primary, one in four votes were cast early. In the 2014 primary, it was 1 in 5. So far, the high-water mark is the 2016 presidential general election, when 31 percent voted early. That was roughly double the percentage in 2012.

Does the early vote predict the final result?

No. If it did, Democrat Anthony Brown would be governor. And Democrat Hillary Clinton would have won some of the battleground states she ended up losing in 2016 to Republican Donald Trump. Statewide, Democrats have generally put more emphasis on early voting, but Republicans have a way of turning out on Election Day.

Carroll County Times reporter Emily Chappell contributed to this report.