In a recent Baltimore Sun opinion piece, former chief of the Justice Department’s Voting Section, John Tanner offers a solution to the state’s troublesome voter registration system “in a way that avoids litigation–and actually saves money.”
The state has reportedly been violating the National Voter Registration Act, which requires motor vehicle and public assistance agencies to offer every citizen the opportunity to register to vote. A Baltimore Sun investigation found that nearly 25 percent of Maryland citizens that went to the motor vehicle office wanted to register to vote, but were unable to do so.
The most prominent violations of the law are in Baltimore City and Price George’s County, writes Tanner.
“The fact that the state’s predominantly African-American areas are victimized by current procedures is especially disturbing,” he says. “This disparity indicates that the state’s NVRA failure may also violate the Voting Rights Act.”
Tanner continues, “Maryland’s voter registration breakdown is an embarrassment. It also is a very serious problem. Any violation of federal law is serious.”
His solution? Automatic registration, or paperless registration, at agency offices when a citizen applies for a driver’s license or public assistance.
More and more states are taking advantage of existing and emerging technologies to improve how these services are provided, allowing agency offices to increase efficiency, reduce errors, and realize significant cost savings. Learn more about paperless registration here.
“The current system in Maryland is badly broken,” writes Tanner. “The state has the opportunity, however, to fix the problem, avoid a costly lawsuit, and save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. Maryland can be in the forefront of voter registration instead of bringing up the rear.”