Maryland's top Democrats are looking at legislation that would automatically put every eligible state resident on the voting rolls, abandoning the traditional registration system.
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael E. Busch say they are seriously considering putting their weight behind a "universal voter registration" plan. If a change were approved, Maryland would join a small number of state legislatures, all led by Democrats, that passed laws to register people who did not take the initiative to register.
The policy would add hundreds of thousands of voters to rolls here — and faces deep objections from the Maryland Republican Party.
"This is all about the Democrats finding new voters. This is a joke," said Joe Cluster, executive director of the state GOP. "God forbid they actually go out there and register people to vote."
In Oregon, the first state to pass such a law, any eligible voter with a driver's license will be registered and sent a ballot by mail at election time. In California, eligible voters renewing a driver's license will be asked whether they want to opt out of registering to vote. If not, they'll be put on the rolls.
The proposal in Maryland could go further, culling information from several government databases to create a list of people who are eligible to vote and signing them up if they're not already registered. Those new voters would be notified that they could opt out if they wish.