House Votes on Same Day Voter Registration

The Maryland House of Delegates recently passed an amendment that permits same-day voter registration throughout the state. The legislation will now go to the Maryland state senate for approval and if approved, Maryland voters will get to decide in November if the legislature becomes a law.  

Due to the 2016 presidential election, some states are working towards stricter legislation regarding voter registration. However, there are proven benefits to same-day registration. Evidence shows states that implement same-day registration notice an increases the voter turnout. Furthermore, supporters highlight its positive impact especially on the turnout of racial minority. This is particularly shown in North Carolina where 35 percent of same-day registrants are African American. Supporters also note that the bill could increase youth turnout by as much as 14 percent. Currently, sixteen states and Washington D.C. are benefiting from the results of  same-day registration.

Same-day registration takes away the deadlines that often hold eligible voters back from voting. Political campaigns are often peak in the last weeks and days before an election, thus making a state’s residents most aware, informed and eager to vote towards the end of a campaign. In other cases, eligible voters move across state lines and need the opportunity to register in their new state. Ineligibility to vote often affects low-income residents and young adults who relocate for school or job offers. Even with all the complications, many states continue to close voter registration 30 days before an election. This results in eligible voters losing their right to vote.  

Maryland’s bill has been sponsored by Delegate Kirill Reznik, D-Montgomery, and 29 other delegates. It passed in the House voting with, 91-47, supporting the bill. If voters pass the legislature in November, then it will be applied during the Presidential election in 2020.

Same-day registration still requires a proof of residency and a voter ID. For the proof of residency, it must be displayed at the time of registration or shortly after. Likewise, a photo ID must be shown to verify the identity of the new voter.

Cost for same-day registration varies between states where same-day registration is permitted. In some states, there is little or no cost. North Carolina and Iowa are examples of states that allocated small budgets towards the implementation of same-day registration. Iowa documented only spending $40,000 towards the opportunity that allowed more of the state’s residents to vote. Both Iowa and North Carolina implemented the registration tactic prior to the 2008 presidential election. Although less common, some states show a higher cost for the process. However, this can be attributed to the cost of buying more equipment, updating the state’s current voter registration database, and an increased number of staff members to accommodate the voters who utilizate the same-day registration.

As of now, Maryland law requires voter registration prior to elections. However, the state might soon benefit from a larger turnout in its upcoming elections if the state’s voters decide to join the other 16 states and Washington D.C that have passed legislation permitting same-day registration.