Illinois Becomes 10th State to Enact Automatic Voter Registration
- brian gladstein, jay riestenberg
Today, Illinois became the tenth state, along with the District of Columbia, to successfully enact automatic voter registration (AVR). Governor Bruce Rauner signed into a law a bill that creates more accessible and secure elections by automatically registering voters unless they opt out of the program.
The new law will have a dramatic effect on Illinois elections as it will add roughly one million new eligible voters to the voter rolls. Similar laws in other states have been proven to increase turnout and make elections more secure by modernizing the voter registration process.
Just Democracy, a diverse coalition of grassroots organizations including Common Cause Illinois, was responsible for ushering in this monumental advance in voting rights reform for the state of Illinois.
“We are proud of our work to bring over 1 million eligible voters into the electoral process in Illinois,” said Brian Gladstein, executive director of Common Cause Illinois. “During a time of heightened partisanship fighting in Springfield and across the nation, we have demonstrated that breaking down barriers to the ballot box can be achieved and supported by both democrats and republicans. We must begin restoring faith by our citizens in our democracy and AVR is a good step in that direction.”
“Automatic voter registration will bring hundreds of thousands of additional Illinoisans into the democratic process and the legislature is to be commended for marshaling the support to overcome Governor Rauner’s veto last year,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “Every American has a right to vote to choose their elected representatives and Common Cause members and staff continue to throw their weight behind AVR bills across the country with increasing success – even in an era where voter suppression measures are on the rise.”
Despite Gov. Rauner’s veto of an AVR bill last year, this year’s version of bill was passed unanimously in the House and with a veto-proof majority in the Senate. Gov. Rauner is the first Republican governor in the country to sign an automatic voter registration bill into law.
Illinois is one of a number of states where Common Cause is pushing to pass automatic voter registration. Common Cause state offices are also leading AVR campaigns in Massachusetts, New York, Nebraska, New Mexico, Maryland, and Hawaii. In recent years, Common Cause has played a key role in passing or enacting AVR reforms in California, Oregon, Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, and Rhode Island.