Student and Military Voter Empowerment Act Passes Maryland House of Delegates

Media Contacts
Rishi Shah

Bill would help increase student and military voter participation

Maryland PIRG

ANNAPOLIS – The Student and Military Voter Empowerment Act, sponsored by House Majority Leader Eric Luedtke, was passed by the House today with a bipartisan 104 – 23 vote. 

College students, universities, and organizations including Maryland PIRG, Common Cause Maryland, Black Girls Vote, and the Maryland Military Coalition supported this legislation to reduce the barriers faced by students and military members with voter registration and voting.

The bill has universities create a Student Voting Plan to ensure that students have information about voter registration and mail-in ballot request  deadlines, polling locations, and transportation options.  It also allows military members to register to vote online using the Common Access Card, which is a Department of Defense-issued ID card. And it has local Boards of Elections reach out to military installations, university campuses, and nursing homes when deciding where to place precincts. 

“The Student and Military Voter Empowerment Act will strengthen our democracy by increasing civic participation for student and military voters,” said Rishi Shah, Campaign Associate with Maryland PIRG. “We’re excited that the House has passed this legislation, and hope the Senate will move quickly to follow suit.”

Specifically, the student voting plans proposed by the bill would have included key steps that universities would take to educate students about the voting process. 

Low levels of youth voter turnout have been well documented, and experts say that one of the primary causes is the voter registration gap between younger and older voters. Only 54% of Marylanders aged 18-24 were registered to vote, compared to 66% of all Marylanders over the age of 18. [1] Young people who are registered to vote turn out in high numbers, very close to the rate of older voters. [2]

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of my out-of-state college friends struggled to register to vote online because they didn’t have a Maryland state ID. They didn’t know where to have their mail-in ballots sent because the dorms could suddenly close,” said Lubna Azmi, a sophomore at Johns Hopkins University. “The Student and Military Voter Empowerment Act will help ensure that students get the information that they need when voting moving forward.”

[1]  “Reported Voting and Registration by Age, for States: November 2018”, US Census Bureau, https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/voting-and-registrat….

[2] Shapiro, Vicki. “Don’t Blame Gen-Z. It’s the Registration Gap,” 4 February 2020, The Civics Center, https://thecivicscenter.org/blog/2020/2/3/dont-blame-gen-z-its-the-regis….

###

Maryland PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) is a state based, non-partisan, citizen funded public interest advocacy organization with grassroots members across the state and a student funded, student directed chapter at the University of Maryland College Park. For forty five years we’ve stood up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.

Topics
staff | TPIN

This Earth Day, put our planet over plastic

We are working to move our country beyond plastic — and we need your help. Will you make a gift in honor of Earth Day to help us keep making progress?

Donate