Senate passes automatic voter registration

Under legislation passed by the Senate May 19, Illinois residents will be automatically registered to vote when they get a driver’s license, update their driver’s license information or conduct a transaction with the Department of Human Services, Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Department of Employment Security, or Department on Aging. The State Board of Elections will have the ability to add other state government agencies to this list in the future.

Currently, when an Illinois resident conducts business with one of these agencies, the person is asked if he or she wants to register to vote. If the person does, their voter registration application is processed. This is known as an “opt-in” process. Under Senate Bill 250, the person’s information will automatically be transferred to the State Board of Elections and then to the local election authority for purposes of completing a voter registration application or updating the person’s voter registration information. The local election authority will contact the person by mail to give the person an opportunity to “opt out” of voter registration. If the person does not opt out, he or she will be registered to vote.

Proponents argued that this will increase efficiency, improve the reliability of the information in the voter rolls and encourage participation in the electoral process.

The General Assembly is adjourned until May 23, making that the earliest the bill could be considered by the House.

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