Lawmakers seek to make registering to vote a simpler process
The State of Maryland is making it easier for you to get to the polls. With the passing of House Bill 741, people will now be automatically registered to vote when they renew their drivers license at the MVA.
It can be a nightmare for many to do their civic duty, especially in low income areas or among the minority communities, where the resources are sometimes not available to them.
"And now, this really empowers a lot of people to really have that right automatically. Some people don't have the access to go to a register to vote event, or different things like that," says Amber Green, executive director of the Phoenix Youth Project.
"There is always power in voting, the voting process even though there is still work that needs to be done," said Salisbury resident Troy Tighlman.
The hope is this can increase voter turnout, especially among groups who historically have trouble getting registered.
"I think this is definitely a great step to get minority voters, especially youth voters out to the polls," said Green.
We spoke with residents about this new bill. One woman tells us she will be voting for the first time if this bill becomes law because of the difficulty for her to get registered. But this is bill isn't the end all be all.
"But then when I think about it a little bit more, I'm wondering if those law makers really understood how hard it was for our youth to get a drivers license," said Green.
Currently, it takes hundreds of dollars and hours of time to go through classes and drive under a permit just to receive a license. Green says for lower income communities, this may not have as much of an effect, and that law makers have more steps to take to increase minority and low income voter turnout.
"I think there's room to look at it a little bit deeper. I don't think voting should be taken lightly as a one catch all fix thing. I think if you're really going to say let's just make it easy to vote, look at how hard it is for minority or low income families to actually get their license," said Green.
In addition to the MVA, people can also register at places like the Health Benefit Exchange, Local Departments of Social Services, and the Mobility Certification Office in the Maryland Transit Administration.
Under this bill you can choose to remain unregistered to vote, as long as you make that known when you make your trip to the MVA.