Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is proposing legislation this year that would allow residents to register to vote and cast their ballots on the same day, as he looks to join other Democratic-leaning states that are expanding voter access as a counterpoint to voter-identification laws passed in more conservative states. The governor’s proposal would allow residents to register and vote on the same day during early voting, but not on Election Day, and would add Maryland to 12 states and the District which have enacted some form of same-day voter registration. A change is expected to increase voter turnout and is part of a push by many Democrats, including President Obama, to clear what they say are unnecessary roadblocks in the way of potential voters.
“Same-day voter registration is working in a number of states to boost both registration and turnout,” said Maryland state Sen. Jamin B. “Jamie” Raskin, Montgomery Democrat. “The right to vote is fundamental and we should remove all obstacles to registration and voting that thwart people’s ability to exercise their basic right as citizens.”
Maryland, California and Connecticut, all blue states, are the most recent to push for same-day voter registration, but the practice is allowed in states across the political spectrum.
The District, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Wyoming all allow qualified voters to register and cast ballots on Election Day. California and Connecticut passed same-day registration laws last year but they have yet to take effect.
North Carolina and Ohio allow same-day voting only during the early voting period that precedes Election Day.