Md. accused of neglecting voter access

August 26, 1992

In a spot survey of state offices, the American Civil Liberties Union found only sparse compliance with a law requiring state agencies to make voter registration forms available to the public.

"The law is intended to make voter registration easy and accessible," ACLU Director Stuart Comstock-Gay said yesterday. "Unfortunately, it is not being carried out."

The ACLU survey found that only 17 of 42 state offices it surveyed had voter registration forms available. The group said the survey only underscores its contention that registration should be made almost automatic for people who turn 18.

Even as the ACLU announced the results of its survey yesterday, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke announced a drive to increase the number of registered voters in Baltimore.

A big part of the city's effort will be to ensure that its 26,000 employees are all registered and to make forms available at city offices.

The voter registration effort also is an attempt to recover some of the 116,000 names purged from the city's voter rolls since 1984. Most of those people were removed for not voting in any election for five consecutive years.

In 1984, the city had 424,744 registered voters; now registration stands at 308,000, said Barbara E. Jackson, the city's election board administrator. To vote in the November presidential election, unregistered Marylanders must add their names to the voter rolls by Oct. 5.

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