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Same-Day Voter Registration Approved

MoCo, state voters largely supported measure to expand registration window

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Montgomery County voters on Tuesday authorized the state legislature to enact same-day voter registration beginning in 2020.

Montgomery County voters and voters across the state approved a state constitutional amendment allowing same-day voter registration at precinct polling places. With 1983 of 1991 precincts reporting statewide Wednesday morning, results showed Montgomery County passed the measure by more than 160,000 votes, mirroring results that show approximately two-thirds of Maryland voters supported the amendment.

Until five years ago, the opportunity for eligible individuals to register to vote in Maryland closed 21 days prior to an election, and reopened 11 days after the election. In 2013, legislation proposed by then-Gov. Martin O’Malley extended registration to include early voting periods—which now run for eight days prior to primary and general elections.

Maryland joins 15 other states and the District of Columbia that currently permit Election Day registration.

Officials will follow a protocol similar to what is now used for registration during early voting on Election Day.

According to Nikki Charlson, deputy director of the State Board of Elections, election officials start with the database of the state Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and remove the names of those already registered. “Once we pull everyone who is registered, we run some more checks against it—and that group is prequalified,” Charlson explained in a telephone interview in October.

Those additional checks include scrubbing the MVA database for noncitizens as well as individuals who are deceased or have been sentenced for a felony.

Those seeking to register on Election Day will have to present a driver’s license or other authorized form of identification. Those not in the MVA database will be allowed to cast a so-called provisional ballot, with a final determination on eligibility made after Election Day.

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