Chicago - The Illinois House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would implement automatic voter registration in the state, with the potential to add 2 million eligible voters to the voter rolls. The bill, which passed in the Senate in May, now heads to Governor Rauner’s desk for his signature.
The legislation will allow residents to be automatically registered when visiting state agencies (such as the Department for Motor Vehicles, Department of Human Services, Secretary of State, or Department of Employment Security) for services, unless they choose to opt-out of registration.
This is a big win for many people in Illinois, as the policy will help to push voter participation rates throughout the state. Allowing voters to be automatically registered not only clears a path for healthy civic engagement, but also allows communities to come together to educate each other on the policies that impact their neighborhoods. This bill would also allow organizations and community groups to focus their resources on issues, rather than on registration efforts that are time consuming.
“We have cleared another hurdle in the fight for political participation for many whom previously had limited access. Making it easier for residents to engage in the voting process is not only the right thing to do, but it also empowers many disenfranchised people to have a voice in the direction of their communities. We urge Governor Rauner to support this much needed legislation and to sign-on in support”, said Katelyn Johnson, Executive Director of Action Now Institute.
The push for this policy was supported by the Secretary of State, the State Board of Elections, and by a bi-partisan vote in both chambers of the Legislature that includes Representative Art Turner, Representative Mary Flowers, Representative Christian Mitchell, Representative Thaddeus Jones, Representative Andre Thapedi, Representative LaShawn Ford, Representative Sonya Harper, Representative Monique Davis, Senator Kwame Raoul, Senator Jacqueline Collins, Senator Mattie Hunter and Senator Kimberly Lightford.
Much of the effort for automatic voter registration was led by a steering committee that includes Action Now Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, CHANGE IL, Chicago Votes, Common Cause Illinois, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Illinois PIRG, with more than 65 organizations signed on to support AVR.