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Lawmakers: Modernize and simplify Illinois voter registration


From Illinois Business Journal news services

SPRINGFIELD — A group of Illinois state senators is advancing a proposal to streamline and simplify voter registration as a similar law takes effect in Oregon.

State Senator Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 2134, which would automatically register voters when they apply for, update or renew a driver’s license or state ID.

“This will modernize and streamline our voting system. If we can improve the efficiency and accuracy of this process, we will cut costs and eliminate costly errors guaranteeing citizens are free to exercise their right to vote,” Manar said.

Under Illinois’ current law, if a voter wishes to register to vote at a DMV he or she must fill out separate, duplicative paperwork.

The senators called for the passage of the bill during a press conference Wednesday and were joined by representatives of Just Democracy Illinois, a coalition that works to expand voter access.

“Our democracy works best when everyone makes his or her voice heard on Election Day, but unfortunately not everyone is heard, due in part to our outdated voter registration system.
 Automatic voter registration will bring more voices into our elections while saving taxpayers money and preserving the integrity of our elections.” said Andy Kang Legal Director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Chicago and a leader in the Just Democracy Coalition.

“Over 38 grassroots and reform organizations, representing broad and diverse constituencies around the state, have already endorsed Automatic Voter Registration. The diversity of support, from neighborhood organizations to national advocacy groups, demonstrates the importance of this legislation,” said Trevor Gervais a Lead Organizer for Common Cause Illinois.

Illinois has 7.6 million registered voters. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 9.7 million residents of the state 18 years of age and older.

Driver’s license and state ID applicants must provide two documents proving residence and documents listing their signature, date of birth and Social Security number. Traditional voter registration only requires two forms of ID, neither of which need to be proof of residency. Traditional processes would also remain in place in addition to automatic registration provided by the legislation.

Undocumented immigrants driving on Temporary Visitor Driver’s License would be automatically ineligible for this program.

Oregon enacted its own automatic registration law that took effect Jan 1, and California enacted similar legislation this fall. Other proposals are being advanced in 14 other states.

Manar introduced the proposal last spring and plans on calling it for a vote early this session.

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