Illinois appears set to join the list of states that are making voting easier by automatically registering eligible citizens when they do business with state agencies.
The Illinois House unanimously passed SB1933 on Monday. If this bill becomes law, qualified Illinoisans who visit a Secretary of State’s Office or Driver’s License Bureau will have an opportunity to be automatically registered to vote.
SB1933 was passed by the state Senate unanimously earlier in May, where it now returns for a vote on amendments. In addition to making registering easier for the state’s nearly 2.2 million unregistered citizens, it will make it easier for voters who relocate to update their registration records.
A similar bill passed both houses of the legislature last year, but was vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, who cited concerns about voter fraud. Attempts to override the veto were unsuccessful. Common Cause Illinois and other supporters of automatic registration have worked with Rauner’s staff to address the governor’s concerns; the unanimous support the bill has received in both houses this year makes a new veto unlikely.
In 2012, nearly 50 million Americans who were eligible to vote were not registered; another 12 million were unable to vote due to problems with their voter registration. Click here to sign Common Cause’s petition in support of nationwide automatic registration.
Unnecessary obstacles to registration leave a key ideal of our democracy - one person, one vote - unrealized. The current system of opt-in voter registration creates unnecessary hurdles to participation by requiring voters to remember registration deadlines and fill out unnecessary paperwork. Automatic registration will remedy these problems, streamlining the process. All eligible voters applying for a driver’s license or state identification card, will be registered to vote, unless they choose to opt-out.
Common Cause is committed to implementing automatic voter registration in all 50 states, ensuring that all citizens can have their voices heard. Automatic registration will help reduce the time and resources spent registering people to vote, saving money while allowing voters to focus on issues that matter to them. The process also will help make elections more secure by allowing information sharing between government agencies, removing duplicate registrations from the voter rolls.
Automatic voter registration has already been enacted in Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Oregon Vermont, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Oregon, the first state to implement automatic voter registration, registered 270,000 voters in the program’s first year, with 97,184 of those new registrations voting in the 2016 election. These early successes signal that automatic voter registration not only works, but also invites more Americans to participate in our democratic process.
Issues: Voting and Elections