General Assembly Approves Automatic Voter Registration

The Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday approved a measure to automatically register eligible residents to vote when they interact with certain state agencies. Residents would be able to opt out from being registered to vote, and those who do register would have the option of joining a political party or registering as an unaffiliated voter.

The agencies responsible for automatic voter registration include the Motor Vehicle Administration, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, local social service agencies and the Maryland Transit Administration’s mobility office. Currently, Maryland employs an “opt in” voter registration policy, where an eligible voter chooses to fill out a voter registration application, which gets reviewed and processed before the name goes on the voter rolls. Automatic voter registration is an “opt out” policy by which an eligible voter is placed on the voter rolls at the time they interact with those agencies.

The bill now heads to Governor Larry Hogan’s desk. Hogan has not said whether he supports the measure, but HB 152/ SB 1048 – Secure and Accessible Registration Act passed by wide enough margins that the legislature could override any potential veto.

If the measure becomes law, Maryland would become the 11th state to adopt automatic voter registration.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.