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Gov. Rauner signs bill aimed at increasing voter participation

Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed SB 1933, which amends the Election Code to require that the Secretary of State and Board of Elections establish an automatic voter registration program.

The legislation, designed to increase participation in the democratic process, provides that an application for a driver’s license, other than a temporary visitor’s driver’s license, or state identification card also serves as an application to register to vote in Illinois.

“SB 1933 removes a barrier to voter participation by modernizing the voter registration process to make it simpler and more convenient for Illinoisans to vote,” Gov. Rauner said. “We hope this streamlined process will encourage more voter participation, so that constituents’ voices are heard and their interests are represented.”

When applicants meet the standards of the REAL ID Act of 2005, and unless an applicant declines, the Secretary of State will transmit records to the State Board of Elections to complete the person’s registration. The system has safeguards, including address verification distinctions between IDs that meet the requirements of the federal REAL ID Act of 2005 and those that do not.

Other agencies that will participate in this program will include divisions of the Department of Human Services; the Department of Employment Security; the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, the Department of Natural Resources. The Illinois State Board of Elections also will have the ability to enter interagency contracts to gather automatic-registration data with other state and federal agencies that can show access to reliable personal information.

“With the signing of this landmark legislation, Illinois becomes a national leader in the effort to preserve and expand voting rights for all citizens,” said state Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill), the bill’s sponsor. “Automatic voter registration will modernize and streamline the process in Illinois. It will produce a system that is less expensive to maintain, more secure and less cumbersome on individual voters. But most of all, it will open up the ballot box, allowing new voters to leave their fingerprints on their democracy.”

“This law puts Illinois on the forefront of states to make voter registration easier, yet more secure while respecting privacy,” said co-sponsor and state Rep. Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago).