Text Size
Login
config

Senate builds unanimous support for automatic voter registration

AVR

After carefully negotiating changes requested by the governor, state agencies and other stakeholders, State Senator Andy Manar’s plan to modernize the voter registration process received unanimous support in the Illinois Senate today.

“I am proud that the state Senate once again has voted to bring automatic voter registration to Illinois, and I hope the House will follow our lead and that Governor Rauner will sign it into law,” said Manar, a Democrat from Bunker Hill.

If enacted, eligible Illinois citizens would be given the option to opt out of registering when they interact with certain state agencies, as opposed to the current system that requires citizens to opt-in.

“At a time when we're seeing a major rollback of voting rights across the country, I'm proud that Democrats and Republicans came together and voted to expand access to the ballot in Illinois,” said Senator Patricia Van Pelt (D-Chicago). “Voter registration laws disproportionately affect minorities, women, seniors and low-income individuals. Automatic voter registration will remove a barrier to voting and help ensure that all eligible Illinoisans are able to participate in our democracy should they so choose.”

“I am happy to see this measure receive such great support from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” said Senator Cristina Castro (D-Elgin). “The right to vote is a pillar of our democracy. Automatic voter registration will bring more participation and allow more voices to be heard in the legislative process.”

“Automatic voter registration is important to the health of our democracy,” said Senator Linda Holmes (D-Aurora). “There are so many existing roadblocks to participation. Something as basic as registration should not be one of those roadblocks. I am dismayed by how low voter turnout is, especially in local and off-cycle elections, and I believe that automatic registration will give more people an opportunity to let their voices be heard in the political process.”

Currently, there are more than 2 million Illinoisans who are eligible to vote but aren’t registered. Automatic voter registration will significantly reduce this number and will remove a barrier to voting for all eligible Illinoisans.

“We should make it easier to vote, not harder,” said Senator Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills). “This legislation will ensure that every Illinois resident who is eligible to vote doesn’t have to go through the sometimes burdensome process to register. This only enhances the voice of the voter during an election.”

Rather than giving individuals the option to fill out a separate voter registration form when conducting business with a state agency, the measure would allow agencies to electronically transfer an individual’s data to the State Board of Elections. Automatically registering eligible voters will streamline bureaucracy, do away with redundant paperwork and save taxpayer dollars.

“When it comes to modernizing state government, automatic voter registration checks all the boxes: it eliminates redundant paperwork, it cuts down on the number of times people have to interact with a government office, it curbs voter fraud, and it saves money,” said Manar. “The time is right for this reform.”

“Not only does automatic voter registration remove a barrier to voting for eligible citizens, it is a common-sense way to modernize the registration process, reduce bureaucracy and duplication and save the state money,” said Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake). “I hope this good government reform receives the same bipartisan support in the House and from the governor as it did in the Senate.”

“We should be making it easier, not harder, for people to vote and have a direct say in who represents them,” said Senator Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant (D-Shorewood). “Making automatic voter registration law will save taxpayer dollars, streamline a government function and ensure the ballot box is as easily accessible as possible for voters.”

In March 2015, Oregon was the first state to enact automatic voter registration. Since then, California, West Virginia, Vermont, Connecticut, Alaska and the District of Columbia have adopted automatic registration, and thirty other states introduced legislation this year.

“In the end, this effort is going to register people to vote, no matter who they vote for – Democrats or Republicans. It’s going to save money, modernize government and streamline our system,” Manar said. “And it’s going to lead more citizens of our state, regardless of where they live or their party affiliation, to participate in our electoral process. That means we all win as citizens of the state of Illinois.”

Hunter: Drug, alcohol testing should follow all officer-involved shootings

Sen. Mattie Hunter

SPRINGFIELD – In an effort to increase accountability among law enforcement officers, State Senator Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) passed legislation that requires sobriety testing following all officer-involved shootings.

The initiative aims to improve credibility in police department investigations. It would require officers to submit drug and alcohol test results no later than the end of his or her shift.

Police-involved shootings have gained much attention over the years as the number of victims has increased drastically. In 2014 alone, more than 1,000 people were killed by police officers.

“Whether these attacks have been targeted or unfortunate accidents, this policy will hold law enforcement accountable for the frequent tragedies of deadly force,” Hunter said.

“Officers must be held to the same standard as other professionals who are responsible for the lives of human beings. This should be a standard operating procedure for every police department.”

The legislation passed the Senate 53-0 and is now in the House for further consideration.