CHICAGO (CBS) — Illinois has become the 10th state to enact automatic voter registration legislation. Governor Rauner signed the bill on Monday morning.
Governor Bruce Rauner signed the automatic voter registration law on the 54th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech and the anniversary of the lynching of Emmitt Till at the Harold Washington Cultural Center on 47th and King Drive in the Bronzeville neigborhood.
In the next ten months, people will be automatically registered to vote when they update their driver’s licenses or state IDs.
“We, as a people, need to do everything we can to knock down barriers, remove hurdles for all those who are eligible to vote to be able to vote,” Rauner said.
Rauner has become the first Republican Governor in the country to sign automatic voter registration legislation.
Ra Joy, executive director of Change Illinois said that, “at a time when many states across the country are setting high hurdles between citizens and the ballot box, Illinois is at the forefront of a movement to make full voter participation a reality.”
A national report suggests the automatic voter registration law could add more than a million new voters to the rolls in Illinois.
Camille Williams, program director of Chicago Votes said the new law “will increase more people of color in low income communities to participate more in the civic process.”
Cook County Clerk David Orr said the law will save election agencies millions of dollars because voter rolls will be more up-to-date. He points out that, “if there are 400,000 voters we’re mailing to, but they’re no longer at that address, who’s money are we wasting? This will fix that.”
He said hundreds of thousands of people change addresses and that not all of them are registered at their correct address.
“This legislation will change that,” Orr said.
Orr calls the law “a game changer” in preventing voter fraud.
The legislation has been passed unanimously in both the Illinois House and Senate. Joy said the bill is “a shining example of the type of bipartisan cooperation that’s so urgently needed.”
Chicago Board of Election Commissioner Jonathan Swain said the legislation “makes the process simpler and makes the process more accessible.”
State Senator Jacqueline Collins noted the bill signing was taking place on the 54th anniversary of the March on Washington and the 62nd anniversary of the lynching of Emmitt Till. She said the legislation means, “your voice and vote matter.”
The Secretary of State’s Office will begin automatically registering people to vote on July 1, 2018, after Illinois has brought itself into compliance with the federal REAL ID standards.
Oregon became the first state to automatically register voters with a 2015 law. It led to a surge in new voters last year. Other states including California, Vermont and West Virginia have adopted similar laws, with roughly two dozen other states considering automatic voter registration measures.