Modernizing Voter Registration

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An op-ed in today’s Baltimore Sun from Delegates Shelly Hettleman, Sandy Rosenberg, and Mary Washington on the House version of a bill to provide for automatic voter registration of eligible voters using MVA and other government agency data. Clap, clap, clap. Beginning the process of bringing our voter registration systems out of the 19th century and into the 21st is an important first step.

Registering to vote shouldn’t be a hurdle for Marylanders to jump through. It should be convenient and secure. Under Freedom to Vote, Marylanders who go to the Motor Vehicle Administration to get a driver’s license will be told that they will be registered to vote unless they choose to opt out.

Social science research tells us that simply switching the premise of the question from, “would you like to register to vote?” to “would you like to opt out?” will lead to a significant increase in registrations. Marylanders who currently hold a driver’s license but are not registered will be given the same opportunity.
Because there are plenty of Marylanders who do not hold a driver’s license, Freedom to Vote would similarly implement an opt-out system at the Health Benefit Exchange, as well as during the application process for other public benefits through a number of other agencies.

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