After carefully negotiating changes requested by the governor, state agencies and other stakeholders, Senator Andy Manar passed automatic voter registration legislation out of the Illinois Senate with unanimous support Friday.
“I am proud that the state Senate once again has voted to bring automatic voter registration to Illinois, and I hope the House will follow our lead and that Governor Rauner will sign it into law,” said Manar, a Bunker Hill Democrat and longtime champion of expanding voter access.
“When it comes to modernizing state government, automatic voter registration checks all the boxes: it eliminates redundant paperwork, it cuts down on the number of times people have to interact with a government office, it curbs voter fraud, and it saves money. The time is right for this reform.”
Senate Bill 1933 would establish an automatic voter registration system in Illinois by July 1, 2018.
Under the system, qualified voters would be automatically registered to vote when they visit the Illinois secretary of state and other state agencies for services. Voters would be able to opt out of the system if they wish. A series of checks would ensure no one is registered to vote that should not be.
Illinois currently has an opt-in voter registration system in which adults who are 18 or older must find, fill out and submit a voter registration form to an appropriate government agency. Voters frequently forget to update their voter registrations when they move, change marital status or go to college, causing confusion at the polls and inaccuracies on the state’s voter rolls.
Automatically registering voters when they do business with the state enables government to do away with redundant paperwork, streamline bureaucracy and be more cost effective for taxpayers.
Manar said the legislation and the 48-0 vote it received in the Senate Friday is a excellent example of the bipartisanship that is possible in the Legislature when people are compelled to work together.
“In the end, this effort is going to register people to vote, no matter who they vote for – Democrats or Republicans. It’s going to save money, modernize government and streamline our system,” he said. “And it’s going to lead more citizens of our state, regardless of where they live or their party affiliation, to participate in our electoral process. That means we all win as citizens of the state of Illinois.”
Ra Joy of CHANGE Illinois commended Manar and the Senate for passing the measure.
“Automatic voter registration will ensure every eligible voter — Democrat, Republican or Independent — has an opportunity to have their voice heard on Election Day,” Joy said. “Updating and modernizing our outdated voter registration system will also streamline the registration process, strengthen security and save time and money. We applaud the senators who voted to move this common-sense reform forward.”
Last year, a national report estimated that automatic voter registration could add an additional 1.13 million eligible Illinois voters to the rolls.