- Published: Tuesday, May 19, 2015 07:37 PM
SPRINGFIELD— Senators Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) are filing legislation this week to provide that any Illinoisan with a valid driver’s license or state issued ID would be automatically registered to vote in Illinois.
“Our proposal streamlines and simplifies voter registration for the citizens of our State, removes barriers to registration, and makes the process more efficient for taxpayers,” Manar said.
“Voting is a constitutionally protected right and civic duty,” Biss said. “While some states are making it more difficult for voters to exercise that right, this legislation will empower Illinoisans and encourage a truly representative democracy in Illinois.”
The proposal, contained in Senate Bill 2134, reforms current registration laws so whenever someone applies for, updates or renews a license or state ID they will be automatically registered to vote in their local jurisdiction.
Today in order to register, voters must complete a separate form that contains the same information as Department of Motor Vehicles paperwork or register through traditional means with a local election authority.
“There is no need for duplicative paperwork in order to allow citizens access to the basic democratic process of voting,” Manar said.
Manar and Biss cite low voter turnout and say that easier access to voting utilizing existing state resources such as drivers’ license applications could help.
The new plan allows people to opt out of the automatic registration and does not apply to the Temporary Visitor Driver’s License for undocumented immigrants.
Under current law, applicants must provide: two documents proving residence and documents listing their signature, date of birth and Social Security number to the Secretary of State in order to apply for a driver’s license. Voter registration only requires two forms of ID, neither of which need to be proof of residency.
Traditional registration processes would also remain in place in addition to automatic registration provided by the legislation.
Oregon enacted a similar law this spring, and similar proposals are being debated in California and New Jersey.
Illinois has 7.5 million registered voters. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 9.9 million residents of the state 18 years of age and older.