voter registration

Flickr user / kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop) "Vote!" (CC BY 2.0)

A plan allowing automatic voter registration in Illinois is advancing through the Legislature despite concerns from the leading state election authority that would have to implement it.

Backers want Illinois to join Oregon, California and West Virginia in modernizing voter registration. They say it cleans up voter rolls and boosts civic participation.

However, the Illinois State Board of Elections says it's opposed because officials don't currently have a program to put it into place and it could cost millions of dollars.

The Illinois Senate has approved a measure allowing automatic voter registration in Illinois.

The chamber advanced the proposal 42-16 on Thursday.

Backers say they looked at similar laws in states like Oregon when crafting the Illinois proposal. It gives election officials data from five state agencies to automatically register eligible voters unless they opt out.

Proponents include voting rights advocates who say it'd improve access and update voter files before November.

Several Democratic lawmakers want to make it simpler for more than two million Illinois residents to sign up to vote.

Many people register to vote while renewing their driver's license. Currently, an Illinois resident has to apply, or opt-in, to register.

This proposal would change it, so people would be automatically registered unless they opt out.

Democratic Sen. Jacqueline Collins of Chicago said automatically registering residents may motivate apathetic 18-to-24-year-olds to vote.

Secretary of State

More than a million people have Illinois drivers' licenses but aren't registered to vote. They would be registered automatically under a measure before the General Assembly.

Democrat Daniel Biss from Evanston says he thinks it is his responsibility as a public official to make the election process as open as possible.

"I think that we have a challenge in our society right now where participation in democracy feels first of all difficult and second of all, unfortunately sometimes pointless," Biss said.

Voter Registration Deadline Arrives

Oct 9, 2012

The deadline to register to vote in the November election has arrived. Voters can still cast their ballot after the October 9th deadline, but they will have vote early and not on election day. Voters must have lived in their precinct for at least a month before the election.