The Maryland Senate on Thursday killed a bill that would have automatically registered people to vote when getting their driver’s license. Some senators, mainly Republicans, had raised concerns that non-citizens wouldn’t be weeded out of the voter rolls, because they can receive driver’s licenses. Concerns also were raised that domestic violence victims or people who want to keep their identity as private as possible would be automatically on voting databases. In a rare maneuver, opponents asked for a roll call vote on adopting the report on the bill from the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. Usually committee reports are adopted without a recorded vote. The vote was 21-24, killing the bill.
Sen. Roger Manno, a Montgomery County Democrat who sponsored the bill, defended the measure, saying it would make it easier for Marylanders to vote. “Government should get out of your way and that’s what you’re doing here,” Manno said.
As introduced, the Universal Voter Registration Act would have required the Motor Vehicle Administration and social services agencies to send information about individuals to elections officials. The individual would be notified that they’re being registered to vote and given the opportunity to select a political party affiliation or to decline to be registered. Those who don’t pick a party would be registered as an unaffiliated voter.