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In 'Huge Leap Forward,' Illinois Becomes 10th State With Automatic Voter Registration

In a time of increased efforts to restrict access to the polls, Illinois took a step in the opposite direction, becoming on Monday the 10th state to enact automatic voter registration (AVR).

This "is a huge leap forward," said Jonathan Brater, counsel with the Brennan Center's Democracy program. "This groundbreaking accomplishment, brought about by the persistence of civic groups, election officials, and legislators, means a quarter of Americans now live in a state where AVR has been approved. We hope other states will follow suit."

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the bill after state legislators unanimously passed the measure in late May. Prospective voters will be automatically registered at the Secretary of State's office when obtaining a driver's license or state ID, unless they choose to opt out. The bill's proponents call it a "win-win-win," as it strengthens democracy by adding voters to the rolls, cuts down on errors, and decreases paperwork.

According to the Associated Press:

Most of the changes will take place ahead of the November 2018 election when Rauner is seeking a second term, including a major update of voter files and registrations through the Secretary of State's offices, which in Illinois provides motor services for drivers. Other agencies will be on board by July 2019.

"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, one of the groups behind the Just Democracy coalition. "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."

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Posted on August 29, 2017


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