Annapolis, MD – January 22 – A coalition of government reform groups praised efforts by Governor Martin O’Malley and Delegate Kiril Reznik that would help Marylanders vote and make sure every vote is counted. The groups also encouraged the Governor to further strengthen his voting package and fix the range of problems Marylanders encountered last year at the polls. Those would include an increase and fair distribution of early voting sites and funding for a new voting system.
“The 2012 national elections spurred a new level of citizen engagement and interest in the political process. Early voting centers were flooded and voter engagement was at a high,” said Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, Executive Director of Common Cause Maryland. “Early voting and same-day voter registration are critical steps to make it easier for people to engage in the political process and have their vote counted. “We look forward to working with the administration to ensure that the details are worked out in a way that makes our voting system inclusive, accountable, and accurate.
Legislation introduced by Governor O’Malley would expand early voting and allow same-day voter registration at early voting sites. HB 17, introduced earlier this session by Delegate Kiril Reznik (D-39), would allow same-day voter registration on Election Day.
“Our democracy works best when all citizens participate and allowing voters to register the same day they go to vote strengthens the franchise by expanding access, solving registration problems, and promoting participation,” said Sara Love, Public Policy Director of the ACLU of Maryland. “We applaud the Governor and Delegate Reznik for their leadership in realizing this common-sense measure for voting rights in Maryland.”
“Early voting and same-day voter registration is a priority of the NAACP because it is a critical step towards making our democratic process more fair and inclusive,” said Gerald Stansbury, President of the Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches.
“States with Same Day Registration regularly lead the nation in voter turnout. Demos applauds Gov. O’Malley and Del. Reznik for opening up new avenues to voter participation,” said Steven CarbÃ³, State Advocacy Director at Demos.
Advocates did express strong concern over the need to fund a new voting system this session. “Our current voting machines are reaching the end of their lifespan. This contributed to the long lines that voters experienced in the 2012 election cycle. The legislature has already authorized the purchase of an optiscan system that will have a paper trail and be more secure, accurate, recountable, accessible and transparent than our existing system,” said Nancy Soreng, president of the League of Women Voters of Maryland. “However, if the Governor and the General Assembly do not begin funding the purchase of these machines this year, our 2014 elections could be problematic for voters.”
Coalition members expect early voting and same-day voting, as well as funding for voting machines, to be dominant issues this session.