Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ October 2019

New Voter Registration Laws Take Effect on 1 October

By Sam Jones

New Maryland voter registration laws are set to take effect on 1 October which may impact you at the polls next year.  There have been numerous changes to Maryland election laws within the past few years, including the notable automatic voter registration law.  This law took effect in July 2019 and automatically registers eligible residents to vote when they interact with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration and certain other state agencies.

On 1 October, two other important voter registration changes will take effect:  residents will be able to register to vote on Election Day and voters will have a third gender option on their registration forms.

The first change, which will allow voters to register when they arrive at the polls on Election Day instead of pre-registering online or during early voting, is the final implementation of a ballot measure that was approved last year.  With this change, voters in the upcoming presidential election can choose to register at the polls just before heading into the ballot box.  The goal of the law is to ensure that more people have access to the polls by removing an unnecessary waiting period during the registration process.

The second change, allowing voters to choose the unspecified gender marker “X,” rather than “F” or “M,” is a follow-up to a new law that allows Maryland residents to choose a third gender marker on their driver’s licenses.  By expanding the available gender options on voter registration forms, the State Board of Elections follows the legislature’s lead of respecting the identities of nonbinary residents across the state.

Check your voter registration at the BOE website:  voterservices.elections.  Also, note the following important dates for the upcoming election: 28 April 2020 — Presidential Primary; 3 November 2020 — General Election.   ■

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