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February 21, 2013
Testimony before the Ways and Means Committee
HB 224 Election Law – Improving Access to Voting
Position: Maryland PIRG supports passage of HB 224, to allow citizens to register or update their voter registration at the polls during the early voting period. Citizen participation in governance is a critical underpinning of our democracy, and Maryland PIRG welcomes all efforts to make that participation easier, more straightforward, and less time-consuming.
Comments: Same day registration during the early voting period has potential to increase voter turnout among all demographics, but most especially among groups that have historically experienced low turnout, such as young voters. Research has shown that if Election Day Registration were implemented in Maryland, voter turnout would be boosted by more than 4%. That is an increase of over 60,000 voters during presidential elections. When the researchers looked only at young voters, that number more than doubled to a nearly 10% increase in electoral participation. 
While same-day registration is still somewhat rare across the country, it has been successfully implemented by 9 states and the District of Columbia. Now is the time for Maryland to join these other states and lead the rest of the country in voter enfranchisement.
Same day registration during early voting allows time for all registrations to be verified prior to votes being counted. Because of this, it can actually help ensure that no fraudulent votes are counted. Same day registration can both make it easier for citizens to exercise their rights and maintain the integrity of our elections.
One argument against the implementation of same day registration is that it will prove too expensive. However, states that have implemented same day registration have been able to do so inexpensively. In Iowa, it cost less than $40,000, and resulted in an increased turnout of 100,000 voters.
Same day registration also reduces the issues that arise from the use of provisional ballots.
Finally, passing same day registration is an important step in building momentum to eventually allow voter registration on Election Day. Election Day registration is another key tool to expand the franchise of voting and allow all Marylanders to exercise their constitutional rights. Same day registration during early voting can help prove that with proper training and public education, Election Day registration will be feasible to implement and will have the potential to get more of Maryland’s citizens involved in their own governance.
 Demos, Same Day Voter Registration in Maryland, http://www.demos.org/publication/same-day-registration-maryland
 Demos, Voters Win With Same Day Registration http://www.demos.org/publication/factsheet-voters-win-same-day-registration
 National Conference of State Legislatures, Same Day Voter Registration http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/same-day-registration.aspx
 Demos, Small Investments, High Yields: Cost Study of Same Day Registration in IA and NC http://www.demos.org/publication/small-investments-high-yields-cost-study-same-day-registration-ia-and-nc
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