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Yesterday, the Illinois House unanimously approved a new automatic voter registration bill and sent the changes back to the Senate for final approval before trying once again to get the Governor’s signature. The Peoria Journal-Star has more:
A bill that would automatically register Illinoisans to vote when they visit a Secretary of State’s Office passed unanimously in the House on Monday.
Senate Bill 1933 would allow qualified residents to be registered to vote when they visit driver’s services offices and other state agencies. Residents would have the option to opt out of the registration.
Earlier this month, the bill passed without opposition within the Senate.
The bill will require Senate approval again because it includes changes regarding process and privacy – but the sense in the legislature seems to be that bipartisan support exists for the bill:
The bill’s House chief co-sponsor, Mike Fortner, R-West Chicago, added a final amendment to the bill that would make registering to vote a smoother process and keep resident’s registration up to date if they move.
Additionally it would allow for more privacy for voters who were in the system but chose not to participate.
“This bill also addresses a number of privacy concerns both in transmission of data between different agencies as well as making sure that for those agencies that have requirements to manage data in a more private fashion,” Fortner said.
Fortner said last year’s attempt to allow automatic voter registration had plenty of room for improvement.
“I thought there were a lot of things that were correctable. We didn’t have to settle for something that was going to be very hard to implement,” Fortner said. “It (had) problems with the timing of the dates; it had problems managing information and respecting people’s privacy. All of that was fixable, and we were able to fix that.”
Robyn Gabel, D-Evanston, another House sponsor, said the bill would ensure that only eligible Illinois voters were registered.
“We’ve worked very hard on this bill since last year, and through these amendments all the stakeholders are supportive or neutral,” Gabel said. “The automatic voter registration will modernize our voter registration in Illinois to make the process more efficient, more accurate and more secure. Getting more eligible Illinois voters will strengthen our democracy.”
Assuming (as it appears) that the legislature will agree on AVR, all eyes will then turn to to the Governor, whose veto last year halted plans to establish AVR in the Land of Lincoln:
Last year’s automatic voter registration bill had bipartisan support and passed both the Senate and the House. But Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed it, arguing that the bill didn’t have enough protections against voter fraud. Although the Senate managed to override the veto, the House didn’t have enough votes.
Should the bill be enacted in its current amended form, agencies would have until 2019 to put AVR into place. Given the veto history, this bill is far from a done deal – but it’s definitely worth watching in the weeks ahead, given Illinois’ size and importance nationwide. Stay tuned …