Visitors to one of a handful of Illinois state agencies would be automatically registered to vote under legislation lawmakers sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner on Tuesday. The House approved the idea 86-30 on the final day of the General Assembly’s spring session, after days of tweaking to make it palatable to state officials who must carry it out. With the Republican governor’s approval, the Prairie State would join just four other states that have or are planning automatic registration programs. In Illinois, people who do business with one of five state agencies — the Department on Aging and the departments of Human Services, Healthcare and Family Services, Employment Security and the Secretary of State — would have information automatically filed with election authorities to allow them to enter voting booths.
Supporters predict expanding the franchise to 2 million people. Republicans fear a ploy to gin up Democrats to flood polling places. It would take effect in 2018.
“This is simply to make sure all citizens are registered to vote — and they can opt out,” said the House sponsor, Rep. Robyn Gabel of Evanston.
At most agencies, visitors would be asked whether they want to register. They may refuse at that point. If they choose to register, they would be asked for documents sufficient to satisfy the State Board of Elections, which then would verify eligibility.