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Proposed Bill Would Automatically Register Md. Voters

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Getting out the vote. Groups across Maryland are ramping up their efforts to get as many voters as possible to cast ballots in this year's election, including a change to the state's voter registration process.

Amy Yensi explains why some are not supporting it.

In Maryland, boosting registration historically has helped the Democrats. And with so much at stake this election year, including the White House, there's no surprise division is forming along party lines.

It's a race against time for Black Girls Vote, a group trying to get out the vote in the African-American community for the upcoming election.

Founder Nykidra Robinson says one group is often left out of the electoral process.

"Especially our young African-Americans, the 18 to 25 year olds, they're not voting," said Robinson.

Some Maryland lawmakers say voter ID laws are adding to the problem. That's why Delegate Sandy Rosenberg supports the new Freedom to Vote Act.

"The question is phrased so it's more likely that you will say, 'Yes, I do want to register,'" said Rosenberg.

The bill changes the way Motor Vehicle Administration and other state agencies ask to register voters -- from "Do you want to register?" to "Do you want to opt out of registering?"

Yensi: "What would you say to the people that are questioning the timing of this proposal, specifically because it is election year?"

Rosenberg: "Expanding the franchise is always the right thing."

The Maryland Republican chairman, Joe Cluster, disagrees, telling WJZ in a statement: "By automatically registering people to vote we are adding numerous people to the voting roles who have no desire at all to vote opening the state up to possible voter fraud. While Republicans are adding voters to our rolls, Democrats are losing voters on their side, so no wonder Democrats are trying this new scheme."

Although Black Girls Vote is targeting one demographic, they're inviting everyone to register to vote, regardless of their age, race or gender.

"You can't talk about voting, but then don't vote," said Tyesha Woodley.

To be clear, people of all political parties will be able to register as part of the new process -- that's if it becomes law.

The Freedom to Vote Act will be introduced to the Maryland legislature in the upcoming session.

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