Democracy works best when we all participate.

Democracy works best when we all participate, but we have a lot of work to do to reduce barriers to voting and help increase civic participation.

Our goal is to make sure people are registered to vote, know how, where, and when to vote, and that they turn out to vote on Election Day, so that they become life-long voters and active participants in our democracy.

In a day and age when we can use computers and smartphones to do everything from paying our utility bills to reading the day's headlines, there is no reason registering to vote or requesting a mail in ballot shouldn’t be easy. 

  • <h5>Benefits Of Automatic Voter Registration</h5><h4>IT'S EASY</h4><p>When you go to the MVA or another government agency and update your information, it automatically updates your voter registration.</p>
  • <h5>Benefits Of Automatic Voter Registration</h5><h4>IT'S AUTOMATIC</h4><p>Under automatic voter registration, the default assumption is that you are registered to vote, instead of pre-supposing that you are not. Under this system, eligible voters are automatically added to the rolls.</p>
  • <h5>Benefits Of Automatic Voter Registration</h5><h4>IT'S MORE ACCURATE</h4><p>An estimated 1 in 8 voter records on the rolls is either invalid or has serious issues, many due to human errors from processing paper applications.</p>
  • <h5>Benefits Of Automatic Voter Registration</h5><h4>IT'S MORE DEMOCRATIC</h4><p>Automatic voter registration could add millions of eligible voters to the rolls, bringing more voices into our elections and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to be heard. </p>
Gaining Momentum

States from Oregon to New Jersey and Washington to Maryland have joined us in passing Automatic Voter Registration. It’s time for other state leaders to modernize their voting systems.

Maryland PIRG and our national network have a long history of working on the ground to increase voter participation. Through the New Voters Project and Community Voters Project, we have accumulated a vast wealth of knowledge about what processes work and what it takes to get citizens registered — as well as the local relationships we need to organize key stakeholders to advocate for modernization. Getting more people registered to vote and moving our country toward universal registration are among the best strategies for increasing voter participation.

In Maryland, any time you interact with the MVA you are automatically registered to vote if you are eligible. Automatic voter registration is a vital step toward a more fair and equal democracy, but most states don’t have this program. Maryland PIRG and our national network want to make automatic voter registration a reality in every state and expand the program to more state agencies. 

And as we see a surge in interest in vote by mail in Maryland, and nationwide, we need to improve our vote by mail system to make it more efficient, effective, and secure. For example, we should be making ballot drop boxes permanent; improving ballot tracking; and, creating a permanent mail-in voter list.

These are just some of the commonsense reforms we can take to increase civic participation and build a stronger democracy.

Maryland PIRG Associate Rishi Shah addresses the need to increase youth voter participation.
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Top photo: Alexandru Nika via Shutterstock.com