At least 8,000 registered voters got cards recently from the State Board of Elections telling them they were not registered. The cards were apparently part of a mailing to a million people eligible to vote in an effort to encourage greater voter registration. But after receiving dozens of distressed calls from senior citizens, Howard County Democratic Chairman Michael McPherson said Tuesday that the effort to push online voter registration by the state elections board “smacks of voter suppression.” According to David Becker, director of election initiatives at the Pew Center on the States, the state board — in conjunction with the Pew Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) – notified 1,000,000 Maryland residents by postcard beginning in late September they were not registered to vote. The card provided instructions on how to register online and included a phone number to the new state election board call center.
The challenge with the mailing, however, is that of those 1,000,000 postcard recipients, about 8,000 were already registered, Becker said. As a result, state and local election officials received “roughly 8,000 calls” from these registered voters, Becker said, based on information he got from the state election board. State election officials did not respond directly to inquiries, but instead referred questions about the mailing to Becker.