Though many states are seeking to limit the number of residents who may vote, the state of Illinois is gearing up to automate the entire process, guaranteeing that voting in future elections will be far more convenient and simple than ever before.
The Illinois House and Senate both passed legislation which, if made law, would automate the process of voter registration, ensuring that any eligible resident who visits the Secretary of State’s office or several other state agencies will be automatically registered to vote. This automatic process will apply to any and all eligible residents unless they purposefully opt out.
Though both the House and Senate have passed the legislation, changes made to the bill in the House mean that the bill will need to return to the Senate for a second vote before it is headed to the Governor’s desk.
If the bill passes muster in the Senate for a second time, it will be headed to Governor Bruce Rauner’s desk to be signed. Though support on both sides of the aisle was strong enough to pass the bill, there is no guarantee that Rauner will sign it.
A previous version of the bill passed by the House and Senate in 2016 was vetoed by Rauner over concerns that it didn’t do enough to prevent voter fraud. The Governor, a Republican, was clearly clinging to his party’s extreme views regarding the safety of voting in America.
Despite the dubious claim that the initial legislation didn’t do enough to prevent voter fraud, Republicans in the state say that this version of the legislation has done enough to address concerns on both sides of the aisle, making it more likely that Rauner will sign it.
If Illinois does pass this legislation into law, it will join a small handful of American states to have done so. Oregon was the first state to pass such legislation in March of 2015, and since then, seven other states as well as the District of Columbia have implemented some form of automatic registration.
In 2017, 32 states have already introduced similar legislation to either implement or expand automatic registration.
As many legislators continue to attack voting rights from all angles, forcing legislation like this into law is the best protection against voter disenfranchisement currently possible. Making it easier, rather than more difficult, to vote is a win for Democracy, and a win for all Americans.