Secure and Accessible Registration Act (SARA)

Next year, Common Cause Maryland, along with a coalition of organizations working toward increasing access to the ballot, will be advocating for the Secure and Accessible Registration Act (SARA). This bill will take advantage of the technological upgrades made in 2016 between the SBE and covered agencies (the Motor Vehicle Administration, Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, local departments of social services, and the motility certification office in the Maryland Transit Administration) to make voter registration faster, more secure, and easier than ever.

How it Works:

Streamline the process: Currently, when Marylanders interact with covered agencies, such as when they apply for a driver’s license, they must go through a separate step and re-input their data in order register to vote. As is often the case, Marylanders’ trips to these agencies can be time-consuming, causing many to skip the registration process.

SARA will alleviate this by streamlining the process.  As Marylanders already provide sufficient information to register to vote, there’s no reason for an extra step.  Covered agencies will simply use already-acquired information to register voters at the end of a transaction (such as an address change at the MVA). Unless the Marylander declines this, their information will be seamlessly transferred to the SBE with little input necessary.

Create Cleaner Voting Rolls: Seamlessly transferring and updating voter registration data is important both for increasing election security and voter access. When Marylanders move and update their address with a covered agency, their voter registrations will update as well – meaning jurisdictions will have fewer outdated registrations on the books, and that voters’ registrations will reflect their new precincts, reducing confusion and the need for provisional ballots.

Increase voter registration: Voters skip the opportunity to register during their time at covered agencies for a variety of reasons. Some don’t want to register; which SARA will respect. But for the thousands of others, SARA will seamlessly register those voters so that they can have their voices heard on election day.

Where it Works:

Alaska, Oregon, California, Colorado, Illinois, West Virginia, Georgia, Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island currently have similar programs.