Automatic Voter Registration in Illinois
What is Automatic Voter Registration?
Automatic voter registration is a process that would allow state election officials to automatically register eligible voters using reliable information from other government lists. In the case of Illinois, the information used to register voters would come from the Secretary of State’s office, which is where people go when they want to get a state ID or driver’s license.
How would the process work?
In addition to the standard paper registration forms available at the county clerk’s offices, and through third party orgs/groups, Illinois currently uses an “opt-in” system where folks are asked whether they want to register to vote when renewing or updating a license or state ID. If they do, they must prove they are eligible. The DMV then sends the information to the county clerk’s office for completion of registration.
The new system proposed under SB250 would be an “opt-out” process, which would automatically register eligible voters when they apply for/renew their state ID or license, unless they take action and ask not to be registered.
What are the benefits to AVR?
The new system would provide a number of benefits, including:
- Upgrading the system using modern technology, which would decrease the errors that come with our current paper-based system, and decrease the number of voters who aren’t allowed to vote on Election Day because of errors in the registration process.
- The new system would increase the number of registered voters. In some states, electronic registration has lead to an increase of seven-times the amount of previously registered voters.
- Electronic AVR is cheaper than paper registration. For example, in Arizona it costs 3 cents per application received electronically at the DMV, where as previously the cost was 83 cents when the same state was using paper registration forms.
- Automatic voter registration is also more convenient for voters, as the new system would update a voter’s address as soon as the information is changed at the DMV, and voters would have online access to update their information as well.
Where are we currently with getting the bill passed in the Illinois legislature?
As of today’s writing, the Illinois Senate executive committee has voted to move the bill to the Senate floor for a vote by all state senators. If it passes from there, it will move on to the House for a vote.
***Update*** The Illinois Senate passed the bill, by a bi-partisan vote of 42-16 on May 19th. The measure will now move to the House for consideration. We will update when we have more info on the House schedule.***