This month, the Illinois General Assembly passed a sweeping voting rights bill that brings our state’s antiquated election system into the 21st century. The landmark legislation means voting will now be a simple, high-integrity process, so all eligible Illinoisans have a voice in our democracy. Yet the bigger story is what the success of SB 172 portends for Illinois’ rising reform movement. The bill never would made it through the legislature without strong support from the diverse, nonpartisan Just Vote coalition, which mobilized people across the state to help move the common-sense election reform package forward. Just Vote represents a unique approach to political reform. In the past, good government groups often fell short because they failed to bring young people and communities of color to the table, or (worse) intentionally excluded them.
By contrast, Just Vote was a true collaboration between reform stalwarts like Common Cause Illinois and Illinois Public Interest Research Group, emerging groups like the youth vote-focused Chicago Votes Action Fund, and unconventional, powerful organizations representing communities of color, from Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and many more across Illinois. The result of this cross-demographic partnership — a major win on an issue that was off the political radar 18 months ago — speaks for itself.