State lawmakers are poised to debate a proposal next week that would automatically register Illinoisans to vote when they obtain or renew a driver’s license or state identification card. The measure, patterned after an Oregon law approved this year, would reverse the current system in which drivers are asked if they want to register. Instead, they would have to say they don’t want to be registered. “I think this would make the process a lot more streamlined,” said state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, who is sponsoring the legislation. “When you change your driver’s license when you move, your voting registration is automatically updated.”
Supporters say the change could help keep people who often move from losing their voting rights because they haven’t updated their registration. Illinois currently has about 7.5 million registered voters, which represents about 70 percent of those eligible.
In addition to potentially boosting the state’s voter roles, the measure also could require upgrades in the computer systems of both the Illinois Secretary of State’s office and the Illinois State Board of Election.
But, state elections chief Steve Sandvoss said analysts are still studying the measure and believe there may be technical aspects of the proposal that need to be addressed before it can be brought to the General Assembly for a vote.