Maryland Democrats hope to break new ground in the push for universal voter registration, planning to wage a fight in the General Assembly this year to automatically sign up everyone who visits certain state social services agency or buys coverage through the state’s Obamacare exchange. State Sen. Victor Ramirez, Prince George’s County Democrat, and state Sen. Roger Manno, Montgomery County Democrat, have already pre-filed automatic registration bills ahead of the legislative session, saying they are trying to cut down on barriers that keep poor people from showing up at the polls on Election Day.
The bills would automatically register everyone who applies for services at the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) unless the customers specifically opt out — a reversal from the current situation, where customers are asked to opt in.
And fearing that poor residents may not need automobile services or have access to online registration right now, the bills would also automatically enroll those who show up at social services agencies or who buy health insurance on Maryland’s version of the Obamacare exchange.
Similar bills are being contemplated in the House of Delegates and are already drawing support from key lawmakers.