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Automatic Voter Registration law proceeds to next phase starting this week

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Under the newest phase of Illinois’ Automatic Voter Registration law implementation, which began July 1, those who contact the Secretary of State’s office through its Driver Services facilities will be notified of their current voter registration status and will be asked whether they would like to update their current information.

collins 042418“The right to vote for one’s representatives has been America’s fundamental freedom since this nation was founded,” said State Senator Jacqueline Collins after her vote to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a first attempt at Automatic Voter Registration in 2016. “Its expression in our Constitution and throughout much of our history was imperfect – and perfected only by the willingness of ordinary people to make extraordinary sacrifices. Some bled, some were jailed and many died. And through this sacred struggle to perfect self-government, the franchise was expanded so no one would be turned away from the polls based on income, race or gender.”

Illinois must implement standards laid out by the federal Real ID law before AVR can be finalized – a process Secretary of State Jesse White has said will be complete in October.

Ultimately, the law will expand to provide voter registration updates at some of the most widely-used state agencies, including the Illinois Departments of Human Services, Employment Security, Financial and Professional Regulation, and Natural Resources. State Senator Daniel Biss has called for this commonsense move to use technology to increase convenience and eliminate confusion for voters.

“There’s simply no reason to require people to jump through hoops to register to vote every time they move, when it just as easily can be done automatically when they update their driver’s licenses. That’s good government,” he said, following a May 2017 vote in favor of the new law.

manar 042718State Senator Andy Manar, the measure’s chief sponsor, has said automatic voter registration is a big deal for Illinois and an initiative worth celebrating, particularly as other states seem intent to find new ways to limit people’s access to the polls.

“While others are trying to close the doors to the ballot box, we are opening those doors,” he said after the legislation became law in August of last year. “This bill makes absolute sense. It will save government millions of dollars once it’s fully implemented. It will improve the accuracy of our voting rolls. It does all sorts of things we claim we want to do in Springfield. But most of all, it removes barriers for individuals to put their fingerprints on their democracy.”