Press Releases

For any media inquiries, please contact Jeff Raines at jeff@changeil.org.

PRESS RELEASES

June 5, 2017

Lawmakers, advocates celebrate historic passage of automatic voter registration bill as Gov. Rauner signals plan to sign

After bipartisan passage of automatic voter registration in General Assembly and Gov. Rauner’s announcement that he intends to sign the bill, lawmakers and advocacy groups who have led the charge say Illinois is becoming national voting rights model

WHO: SB 1933 lead sponsors Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-18th) and Rep. Mike Fortner, (R-49th); Cook County Clerk David Orr; Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-16th); Sen. Don Harmon (D-39th); Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-39th); Rudy Garrett, Interim Executive Director, Chicago Votes; Ami Gandhi, Director of Voting Rights and Civic Empowerment, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights; Tuyet Le, Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago; Abe Scarr, Director, Illinois PIRG; Celina Villanueva, New Americans Democracy Project/Youth Engagement Manager, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Jay Young, Political Director of Common Cause Illinois; Ra Joy, Executive Director, CHANGE Illinois

WHAT: Advocates and champions of the automatic voter registration bill join together to thank Gov. Bruce Rauner for his intention to sign the bill and encourage him to do so quickly so that state agencies can begin implementing the law.

8 states and Washington, D.C. have passed AVR already. Illinois’ law could add as many as 1.13 million new voters to the rolls.

WHERE: The office of Cook County Clerk David Orr, 69 W. Washington, Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60602

WHEN: Tuesday, June 6, 2017, 9:30AM CST

SPRINGFIELD (June 5, 2017)– Lawmakers and members of the Just Democracy Illinois coalition of of civic and voting rights groups will gather on Tuesday for a press conference to celebrate the passage of Senate Bill 1933 to create automatic voter registration (AVR) in Illinois. Gov. Rauner has pledged to sign the bill in the coming weeks.

SB1933 reforms current registration laws so that whenever an eligible Illinois resident applies for, updates or renews a driver’s license or state ID, he or she will be automatically registered to vote or have their registration updated, unless they opt out. It also creates a similar program for other state agencies, such as the Department of Human Services and the Department of Natural Resources.

The achievement of bipartisan agreement on legislation dealing with elections is remarkable in the midst of partisan tension in Springfield. The legislation passed the Senate on May 5 with a 48-0 vote, with 22 Republicans and 26 Democrats voting in favor. In the House, the AVR bill was cosponsored by members of both parties, and passed 115-0, with 66 Democrats and 49 Republicans voting in favor. Representative Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago) was a chief co-sponsor and sponsored the final amendment to the bill.

Just Democracy Illinois is led by a steering committee that includes Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, CHANGE Illinois, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Chicago Votes, Common Cause Illinois, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Illinois PIRG.

# # #

May 29, 2017

Automatic voter registration bill passes House

SB1933, to make voter rolls secure, modern and cost effective, will now go to Gov. Rauner’s desk

SPRINGFIELD (May 29, 2017)–The Illinois House unanimously passed Senate Bill 1933 to create automatic voter registration (AVR) on Monday, to applause from backers in the Just Democracy Illinois coalition of civic and voting rights groups.

“We are thrilled that automatic voter registration passed the House today with broad, bipartisan support,” said Andy Kang, Legal Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago, and a Co-Coordinator of Just Democracy Illinois. “We urge Governor Rauner to sign automatic voter registration into law and create a more modern, secure, and accurate voter registration system for Illinois.”

SB1933 reforms current registration laws so that whenever an eligible Illinois resident applies for, updates or renews a driver’s license or state ID, he or she will be automatically registered to vote or have their registration updated, unless they opt out. It also creates a similar program for other state agencies, such as the Department of Human Services and Department of Natural Resources.

The achievement of bipartisan agreement on legislation dealing with elections is remarkable in the midst of partisan tension in Springfield. The legislation passed the Senate on May 5th with a 48-0 vote, with 22 Republicans and 26 Democrats voting in favor. In the House, the AVR bill was cosponsored by members of both parties, and passed 115-0. Representative Mike Fortner (R-West Chicago) was a Chief Co-Sponsor and sponsored the final amendment to the bill.

“Automatic voter registration, as passed this year, will allow technology to help make our elections more secure, more efficient, and more open to all citizens of Illinois,” said Rep. Fortner. “This bill will create a seamless process for citizens to register and keep their registration up-to-date as they move. At the same time, it respects the privacy of those in the system and those who choose not to participate.”

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) first introduced the proposal in 2015, which passed in both the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support before Governor Rauner issued a veto.

“I am proud that my colleagues in the House voted to bring automatic voter registration to Illinois, making voter registration more modern, efficient and accessible to all eligible voters,” said Rep. Gabel. “This legislation is a model of bipartisan cooperation and I urge Governor Rauner to sign it into law.”

“We retooled parts of this plan based on suggestions from both sides of the aisle.  There’s no plausible reason Gov. Rauner shouldn’t sign it the moment it lands on his desk,” Sen. Manar said. “If he is serious about modernizing Illinois government and saving money for taxpayers, then automatic voter registration is an excellent way to do both.”

Gov. Rauner has previously indicated that he supports automatic voter registration in concept. After two amendments passed through the Senate Executive committee earlier this month, a Rauner spokesperson said they are “hopeful of reaching consensus on a bill that all parties can support.”

“We worked with Governor Rauner’s office on the House amendment and are confident the final legislation addresses the Governor’s concerns,” said Kang.

The amendments passed in the House and Senate included changes to align automatic voter registration with the implementation of REAL ID at the office of the Secretary of State, adding two agencies to the program, and making adjustments to ensure the program would be implemented in a timely and effective manner in the state agencies. The legislation includes an implementation timeline of July 2018 for the Secretary of State, where the vast majority of voter registrations are processed, and July 2019 for other state agencies.

“Automatic voter registration will ensure every eligible voter–Democrat, Republican or Independent–has an opportunity to have their voice heard on Election Day,” said Ra Joy of CHANGE Illinois. “”We applaud all of the legislators from both houses and both parties who came together to move this common-sense reform forward.”

Last year, a national report estimated that automatic voter registration could add an additional 1.13 million eligible Illinois voters to the rolls.

“As an election administrator, it is crucial that we operate using clean and efficient voting lists,” said Cook County Clerk David Orr. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of Just Democracy Illinois and others, we are hopefully bringing automatic voter registration to Illinois.”

“We are excited for AVR’s passage,” added Champaign County Clerk, Gordy Hulten. “This will improve the quality of our voter registration data and improve the service we can provide at polling places for election day registration. Hopefully the legislature will quickly follow with funding for implementation.”

Automatic voter registration has already passed or is in the process of implementation in eight states and the District of Columbia, and more than 20 other states have bills pending. Oregon was the first state to implement automatic voter registration, where it has been successful in increasing voter turnout with youth voters by 6 points and increasing voter registration numbers within communities of color by 26 points.

“Involving young people in voting is a down payment on our democracy,” said Rudy Garrett of Chicago Votes, an organization dedicated to engaging young voters in the democratic process. “Automatic voter registration will help more young voters raise their voices and be heard on issues that matter to them.”

Just Democracy Illinois is led by a steering committee that includes Action Now Institute, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, CHANGE Illinois, Chicago Votes, Common Cause Illinois, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Illinois PIRG. The coalition includes 11 more members and their two year campaign for automatic voter registration was endorsed by a diverse collection of more than 65 organizations.

# # #

May 5, 2017

Automatic voter registration bill passes Senate unanimously

SB1933 will make voter rolls secure, modern and cost effective

SPRINGFIELD (May 5, 2017)–The Illinois Senate passed Senate Bill 1933 to create automatic voter registration unanimously on Friday, to applause from backers in the Just Democracy Illinois coalition of civic and voting rights groups.

SB 1933 reforms current registration laws so that whenever an eligible Illinois resident applies for, updates or renews a driver’s license or state ID, he or she will be automatically registered to vote in the local jurisdiction unless they opt out. It creates a similar program for other state agencies. SB 1933 passed in 48-0 vote.

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) first introduced the proposal in 2015, which passed in both the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support before Governor Rauner issued a veto.

“I am proud that the state Senate once again has voted to bring automatic voter registration to Illinois, and I hope the House will follow our lead and that Governor Rauner will sign it into law,” said Sen. Manar. “When it comes to modernizing state government, automatic voter registration checks all the boxes: it eliminates redundant paperwork, it cuts down on the number of times people have to interact with a government office, it curbs voter fraud, and it saves money. The time is right for this reform.”

“We are thrilled that automatic voter registration passed the Senate today with broad, bipartisan support,” said Andy Kang, Legal Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago. “We encourage members of the House and Gov. Rauner to follow the Senate’s lead by taking decisive action to pass automatic voter registration and finally create a more modern, secure, and accurate voter registration system for Illinois.”

Gov. Rauner has previously indicated that he supports automatic voter registration in concept. After two amendments passed through committee on Wednesday, a Rauner spokesperson said they are “hopeful of reaching consensus on a bill that all parties can support.”

“We are confident the new legislation addresses Governor Rauner’s concerns and we are actively working with his office to finalize agreement,” said Kang

The amendments made Wednesday were mostly technical in nature. They included changes to align automatic voter registration with the implementation of REAL ID at the office of the Secretary of State, and adding two agencies to the program: the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. REAL ID is a federal program that tightens standards for state identification documents, expected to be implemented in Illinois in 2018.

“Automatic voter registration will ensure every eligible voter–Democrat, Republican or Independent–has an opportunity to have their voice heard on Election Day,” said Ra Joy of CHANGE Illinois. “Updating and modernizing our outdated voter registration system will also streamline the registration process, strengthen security, and save time and money. We applaud the senators who voted to move this common-sense reform forward.”

Last year, a national report estimated that automatic voter registration could add an additional 1.13 million eligible Illinois voters to the rolls.

“Every eligible voter who wants to vote should be able to,” said Rudy Garrett of Chicago Votes, an organization dedicated to engaging young voters in the democratic process. “Through automatic voter registration, we can ensure that eligible voters are able to raise their voices and be heard on issues that matter to them the most.”

Automatic voter registration has already passed or is in the process of implementation in seven states and the District of Columbia, and more than 20 other states have bills pending. Oregon was the first state to implement automatic voter registration, where it has been successful in increasing voter turnout in communities of color and with youth voters by 26 points and 20 points respectively.

Just Democracy Illinois is led by a steering committee that includes Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, CHANGE Illinois, Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Chicago Votes, Common Cause Illinois, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Illinois PIRG.

# # #