Getting out the vote

November 05, 1990

Predictions are that the percentage of Marylanders who turn out to vote tomorrow will be pitifully low. But however low the number is, it still won't reflect the 1.5 million people who are eligible to vote in this state but are not registered. That statistic casts a heavy shadow on the country's proud claims of "government of the people, by the people and for the people."

One problem is the difficulty of registering. Forms are available at local elections boards, but how many of those unregistered voters know that? You can also get them in libraries and state offices, and soon you can pick them up in post offices. But if you failed to register before Oct. 9 this year, you are out of luck. Maryland law requires that the voting rolls close on the fifth Monday preceding the general election. That's long before most people begin to focus on the election at hand.

Some other states -- Minnesota and Wisconsin are examples -- allow voters to register on election day, a system that seems to work well. If other states can handle it, why can't Maryland? This item belongs on the General Assembly's agenda next January.

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