At a time when 500,000 eligible Illinoisans aren’t registered to vote, and voter turnout is at staggeringly low levels, the Illinois Senate approved legislation Wednesday that would make online voter registration an option in the state. The bill, HB 2418, would make it possible by July 1, 2014 for residents to register to vote through the Illinois State Board of Elections’ website. After entering drivers’ license information and the last four digits of a Social Security number, potential voters would be mailed a voter registration card. The card would need to be presented at a polling place during voting. “We’re taking a bold step into the electronic world,” State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), the bill’s primary sponsor in the Senate, said during the legislation’s debate. “This really is a key to getting young people involved in the process.”
If the bill is signed into law, Illinois would be the 19th state to approve legislation that allows voters to stray away from the traditional paper system.
Gov. Pat Quinn, who called on lawmakers to move voter registration online during his February State of the State address, applauded the chamber for passing the legislation.
“As I proposed in my State of the State address, this cost-effective measure will move our election process into the 21st century and make registering to vote easier for everyday people,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “Our democracy will be stronger if more voters raise their voices at the ballot box.”
The Illinois Senate approved the measure by a 32-20 vote. The legislation now moves back to the Illinois House, which passed the bill in April but now needs to consider Senate amendments.