State senators and advocacy groups on Wednesday pushed for a bill to allow for automatic voter registration, which would simplify the registration process for more than 2 million unregistered Illinois voters. Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, is sponsoring Senate Bill 2134, which would automatically register voters once they apply for or renew a driver’s license or state ID. Illinois currently uses an opt-in system where citizens are asked whether they want to register to vote when renewing or updating a license or state ID. If they do, they must prove their eligibility, which completes their application to register once it is combined with other provided materials. The secretary of state’s office then sends the information to the appropriate county clerk or election authority.
With an opt-out system, such as the one established in SB2134, eligible citizens would be automatically registered unless they take action to opt out.
Manar said he hopes the bill will allow greater access to voting for eligible citizens and generate more voter turnout. Census data from 2010 shows that Illinois has nearly 10 million residents over the age of 18, but only 7.5 million are registered voters. In addition, of those registered to vote during the 2014 election, fewer than 40 percent cast a ballot.