Know Your Rights

     On Wednesday, September 25, 1789, Congress proposed 12 amendments to the legislatures of the then-11 states. Numbers three through 12 were later adopted as the U.S. Bill of Rights.

         That historic date is commemorated in Calvert County this year with a Voter Bill of Rights.

         This Bill of Rights is a brochure explaining the rights of all voters.

         “Experiences we heard about at polling places encouraged our Voter Services Committee to create a fact-based, nonpartisan document that would benefit all voters,” said Janet Bellizzi of the Calvert County League of Women Voters. “We had also seen the American Civil Liberties Union Voter Empowerment Card and were impressed with the contents.”

         The League is a nonpartisan organization.

         “We want the community to know that their vote does count,” said JC Hooker, Calvert County League president. “A part of our democracy is the right to vote.”

         Included are important dates, requirements for registering to vote and instructions on how to use a provisional ballot and what to expect at the polls.

         If you encounter an obstacle on election day, the League recommends you ask the polling place’s chief election judge to provide you with a written explanation on the spot. “You have the right to know why,” the brochure states. In case you make a mistake on your ballot, the League says you have the right to two replacement ballots.

         Non-English speakers have additional rights: to a translation of all ballots and other elections materials and to bring an interpreter or get assistance. The League has also created a Spanish version of its Voter Bill of Rights.

         The League worked with Calvert County to ensure the brochure’s accuracy. “We requested that Gail Hatfield, elections administrator for the county, and her staff from the Calvert County Board of Elections review it,” Bellizzi says. “They proposed minor edits and all of those suggestions were incorporated into the final document.”

         “We are excited to have the new bill of rights to hand out to our new registered voters,” says Hatfield. “We hope that the more information that is out there in our communities the more people will utilize their rights to vote and come out on early voting, Election Day or by absentee.”

         Though developed for Calvert County and reflecting its calendar and locations, the Voter Bill of Rights will guide you no matter where you live.

         Find the Voter Bill of Rights at voter registration events and opening at