Election bills have always been of keen interest to the League. We were established in 1920 to help newly enfranchised women use their ballots effectively, and we have a long tradition of supporting laws that remove barriers to voting.
Dozens of election-related bills have already been pre-filed, and we anticipate more to come. Some of the topics that were addressed in bills considered during the 2020 session of the General Assembly have been reintroduced, including:
- Voting by mail
- Increasing access to voting for students and other under-served groups
- Facilitating voter registration for people newly released from prison and those in custody pending trial or for misdemeanor convictions who are still eligible to vote
- Special elections to fill vacancies in the General Assembly
- Nonpartisan elections for Circuit Court judges
- Employers’ obligations to give time off for voting
- Restricting who may return an absentee ballot on a voter’s behalf
None of these bills passed last year, in part due to the abbreviated session. For certain bills, concerns were raised that may be addressed in the revised versions submitted this year.
In general, the League will be supporting bills that make voting easier and more accessible and opposing bills that would impose constraints on voters. Increasing voter participation is not sufficient, however — it is also essential to maintain the operational safeguards protecting the integrity and security of elections and the privacy of voters. Another consideration is the fiscal impact of implementing a particular bill, which can be a hurdle to passage by the General Assembly. Along with submitting formal testimony, the League can provide useful information to legislators as they draft or evaluate bills.
We will provide more detailed information on selected bills through blog postings as well as through action alerts. Information on all bills is available directly from the General Assembly website at https://mgaleg.maryland.gov/mgawebsite/