CHICAGO – Hoping to streamline the process to register to vote, state Rep. Sonya Harper, D-Chicago, supported a measure that will allow Illinois residents to automatically register to vote when they renew their driver’s license.
“Voting should be proactively encouraged by the government and frequently advertised for people to exercise whenever possible,” said Harper. “The country is suffering from extreme voter fatigue and empathy. A healthy, vibrant and effective democracy thrives on active voter participation, and, by getting everyone to play an active role in government, policies that benefit everyone can be put in place.”
The Harper-backed Senate Bill 1933 would allow the state to automatically register eligible voters while they are applying for, updating or renewing driver's licenses or state IDs with the Secretary of State and other designated agencies. The voter registration information would be sent electronically to the applicable election authority. Illinoisans who do not wish to register would have the opportunity to opt out.
Currently, the state's voter registration process operates on an opt-in system, in which citizens can register online or by providing paperwork in person or by mail. Advocates for the bill point out other states that have implemented automatic voter registration have seen savings over time by streamlining outdated methods of registration. While Harper’s measure seeks to provide cost-savings down the road, the larger goal is to provide voters with more reasons to engage with their government and increase their influence on the process.
“People should not be forced to go out of their way to register to vote; this should be a service provided for them so they have one more reason to go out and vote,” said Harper. “This will give people more opportunities to play an active role in their government, and hold people in office more accountable for their actions.”