Voting is one of the major ways we communicate with our elected officials and speak up for what we believe in. However, even today many hard-working Americans face real barriers that interfere with their journey to the ballot box.
Currently, there are about 2.3 million Illinois residents who are eligible to vote but not registered. Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) could help give these citizens a voice.
Automatic Voter Registration makes commonsense updates to modernize our registration system so more eligible Americans can register, vote, and make themselves heard, while at the same time safeguarding our elections with better technology.
On August 28, 2017, Governor Bruce Rauner became the first Republican Governor to sign Automatic Voter Registration into law. This was a great victory and came after intense lobbying with our partners at Just Democracy and great pressure by Common Cause members. The legislation was passed unanimously with bipartisan support. We are grateful that AVR is now law, but it has yet to be fully implemented.
The part of the legislation that allows Illinoisans to register to vote or change their address any time they head to the DMV was rolled out in July 2018, along with a modernized registration system and a more accurate way to check voter data, the secure ERIC database.
But the “opt-out” system, a key feature of AVR, has not yet been implemented. This system would automatically place every eligible Illinoisan on the voter rolls unless they choose to opt-out of that process. The statute passed in Illinois also makes it possible for voters to register to vote any time they interact with other participating government agencies beyond the DMV, making us a leader nationwide. We remain engaged in the fight to ensure Automatic Voter Registration comes into effect on time and that it represents all of our communities. Over 2 million voters in Illinois can be automatically registered to vote and participate in our democracy if we keep up the pressure.