Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law legislation that makes automatic voter registration the law of the land in Illinois. This represents a victory for people that were left disenfranchised by a process that was often burdensome and unfair.
The legislation comes on the heels of years of organizing work by lawmakers and community members, not the least of which is the advocacy work done by our sister organization Action Now Institute, as a part of their work with the Just Democracy Coalition Illinois.
The new law changes the current registration process so that whenever an eligible voter goes to the Secretary of State’s office to apply for, update or renew their driver’s license or State ID, he or she will be automatically registered to vote based on the information and address they provide, unless they choose to opt out. AVR creates a similar program for other state agencies, which will make it the farthest reaching automatic voter registration law in the country.
In addition to making voter registration an easier process and more accessible to people in our communities, the new law also saves money by reducing paperwork, streamlining the system and making it more secure and less cumbersome.
The Department of Motor Vehicles will implement AVR by July 1, 2018, and other the other state agencies covered by the law will implement it by July 1, 2019. There are estimates that the new law will possibly add 1 million eligible citizens to the voter rolls in Illinois.