Maryland, Washington Join Other States in Automatic Voter Registration

By: - April 6, 2018 12:00 am

Automatic voter registration laws register people to vote when they interact with other government agencies.

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Maryland on Thursday became the 11th state to adopt automatic voter registration, legalizing a system that adds residents to voter rolls when they interact with various state offices.

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan allowed the bill to become law without his signature; it takes effect in July 2019.

Ten other states and the District of Columbia automatically register qualified voters when they get an ID through their departments of motor vehicles. People must opt out of registering to vote, rather than needing to check a box saying they would like to register.

Maryland’s law is broader than most, as people who receive social services from the state or buy insurance on the health exchange will also be added to voter rolls.

Washington state also recently adopted automatic voter registration as part of a  broad voting rights package that also included pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds and Election Day registration.

Supporters of automatic voter registration say it simplifies the registration process and ensures that more people get registered. Oregon was the first state to adopt automatic voter registration through its Department of Motor Vehicles, increasing the number of registered voters in the state by about 10 percent in less than two years.

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Rebecca Beitsch

Rebecca Beitsch writes about energy and the environment for Stateline. She covered state government in Missouri and North Dakota, writing about politics and policy for NewsRadio KMOX, the Columbia Missourian and the Bismarck Tribune.