Indivisible-backed Automatic Voter Registration bill becomes law in Maryland

Indivisible Baltimore organized our members and the members of Indivisible groups from across the state to support two bills that will increase voting access for Marylanders.  The first bill establishes an automatic voter registration (AVR) system for eligible Marylanders who interact with certain state agencies. The second bill gives Maryland voters a chance to amend the Constitution and allow for Election Day Registration (EDR).  Working closely with Common Cause Maryland, we implemented an in-person, phone, and social media strategy to lobby our legislators, with a particular focus on Democratic Senators who opposed these bills in the past.

We organized a lobby night, at which over 60 Marylanders met with over 30 legislators from 12 districts in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Howard County to urge them to support AVR and EDR.  We also submitted written testimony to the Maryland Senate in support of AVR and wrote an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun advocating for both bills.

Our efforts paid off, as the General Assembly passed both bills with supermajorities!  Maryland’s Democratic legislators unanimously supported both bills, including all 10 Democratic Senators who voted against AVR in 2016.  Governor Hogan neither signed nor vetoed AVR, so it became law and will be implemented at the MVA and other state agencies before the 2020 election.  Because EDR requires a Constitutional amendment, it will be on the ballot in November, 2018.

“Our democracy is stronger when we expand voting access,” said Alexandra Neuhaus-Follini, the co-coordinator of Indivisible Baltimore, which advocated for the automatic voter registration bill. – Washington Post, April 6, 2018

Maryland is the 12th state to enact an AVR law.  Estimates suggest that when AVR in Maryland is fully and properly implemented, it will lead to the registration of hundreds of thousands of new voters, many of whom will actually turn out to vote.  EDR will make voting more accessible to those who realize close to Election Day that they are not registered or are registered at the wrong address, and will also serve as a bulwark against Republican threats to purge the voter rolls.

Indivisible Baltimore’s advocacy for AVR and EDR shows what “resistance” groups can accomplish when they unite.  We thank Maryland’s other Indivisible groups for helping us with this important campaign, as well as every individual who visited, called, or emailed their representatives about these important pieces of voting rights legislation.

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