Today, the Illinois state house of representatives passed a bill for automatic voter registration 115 to 0. That follows a vote of the state senate where it passed 48 to 0. The bill now goes to the governor for his signature, which will make Illinois the ninth state to adopt automatic voter registration. The unanimous vote in Illinois demonstrates this innovative policy's growing momentum as an essential part of modernizing the voter registration process.
Under the new law, any time a qualified voter provides information to a government agency like the DMV, they will automatically be added to the voter rolls. Qualified voters always have the opportunity to opt out, if they do not want to be registered to vote. The bill will help ensure that as many qualified voters as possible will be able to vote without having to take steps to affirmatively register. The bill also includes safeguards to ensure that only qualified voters are registered.
FairVote has long advocated for universal, automatic voter registration, which has spread rapidly since Oregon became the first state to adopt it in 2015. When Oregon first implemented the new system in 2016, over 225,000 voters were registered, and over 100,000 of them participated in the 2016 election. When voters go to a government office and are providing information which proves that they are qualified to vote, it’s simple to ensure that they are registered to vote at the same time. Automatic registration also works to make the system more efficient, using less government resources and working to ensure that all of the names on the voter rolls are, in fact, qualified to vote.
For more information on this and other reforms to the voter registration process, see FairVote's Policy Guide page on voter registration modernization.