The General Assembly is close to passing Gov. Martin O’Malley’s bill to expand early voting and allow for same-day registration. The House of Delegates voted 103-35 to pass Senate Bill 279, Election Law — Improving Access to Voting. The Senate passed a similar bill in March. If the Senate concurs with the bill, it will head to O’Malley’s desk. If a conference committee is needed to work out the differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill, both chambers must agree on the same bill by April 8, the scheduled last day of the General Assembly’s 90-day session.
The measure will give Marylanders two more early voting days. It will also allow people to register to vote and immediately cast ballots at early voting centers, and give them the opportunity to obtain absentee ballots online.
Opponents of the bill raised concerns about the potential for voter fraud, but the House Ways and Means Committee included several amendments to increase security around provisions that allow absentee voters to register and mark their ballot online.
Proponents said the measure is a sound solution to a problem that caused long lines at early voting centers, depriving some of a chance to vote last fall.
While some counties like Montgomery, Prince George’s, Frederick and Baltimore counties would get as many as three more voting early voting centers under the bill, Anne Arundel County would continue to have five.