Illinois House Passes Automatic Voter Registration SB250
SPRINGFIELD (May 31, 2016) – Up to 2 million Illinoisans could be added to the voter rolls thanks to an Automatic Voter Registration bill that moved to the threshold of passageTuesday in the Illinois legislature. The measure passed with substantial bipartisan support, gaining a total of 86 votes.
“With today’s House approval of SB250 and scheduled action today in the Senate, Illinois will move to the forefront of a national effort to make our democracy more accessible and more inclusive,” said Trevor Gervais, lead organizer for Common Cause Illinois. “This bill makes voter registration convenient and simple by adding qualified citizens to the rolls automatically when they do business at Drivers Services and other state agencies.”
SB250, sponsored by State Senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and State Representative Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston), passed the Senate with bipartisan support on May 19. It will return today to confirm the final language. The bill will then move to Governor Rauner’s desk for his signature.
“During such a crucial time for immigrant communities, Automatic Voter Registration will change the process of registering to vote from being a barrier to creating a gateway to civic engagement. This will provide more opportunities for voter education to ensure that our communities are well informed about the issues while they engage in the democratic process. Our hope is that Gov. Rauner signs the bill so that we can begin to implement this bipartisan supported proposal to ensure that diverse voices are heard in Illinois.” said Celina Villanueva, Civic Engagement Manager, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.
"This legislation was carefully crafted and has the support of the Secretary of State, State Board of Elections, and many local election authorities," said Abraham Scarr, Director of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group. "We encourage Governor Rauner to sign this commonsense, bipartisan proposal to improve our democracy."
"The voices of Black communities, through disenfranchisement, often go unheard. Allowing voters to be automatically registered not only clears a path for healthy civic engagement, but also allows communities to come together to educate each other on the policies that impact their neighborhoods. Using the time and resources it would take to register tens of thousands of new voters every year, organizations and communities could work to educate and empower voters to make their voices heard. We believe that can be accomplished with Automatic Voter Registration,” said Katelyn Johnson, Executive Director, Action Now Institute.
“The same month that 400 Asian Americans rallied in the capitol and held meetings seeking bipartisan support, SB250 passed thanks to Senators and Representatives from both parties,” said Kathleen Yang-Clayton, Advancing Justice | Chicago Deputy Director. “Automatic Voter Registration will empower our communities by bringing more eligible voters into our democracy, and breaking down barriers to participation.”
“Young people from all communities across the state will benefit from a modern electronic voter registration system that saves the state time and money and makes our voter rolls more accurate. That’s why we’ve been coming to Springfield every week, because we want to see the world’s greatest democracy live to its fullest potential and we’re moving closer to that with today’s historic vote,” said Christian Diaz, executive director of Chicago Votes, a young people’s organization that supported online and same-day voter registration.
Oregon lawmakers last year became the first to pass Automatic Voter Registration legislation. Legislatures in three other states have since followed suit and officials in Connecticut have announced plans to adopt automatic registration by administrative action.
The Just Democracy coalition is led by a steering committee that includes Action Now Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, CHANGE IL, Chicago Votes, Common Cause Illinois, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Illinois PIRG, with more than 65 organizations signed on to support SB250.