A nonpartisan group is pressuring the Illinois Secretary of State’s office to address its concerns over how the state agency is implementing an automatic voter registration law designed to make it easier for residents to register.
The group Just Democracy said Secretary of State Jesse White is five months behind in implementing the automatic voter registration law that was passed and signed in 2017. They say in a letter to White’s office last week the state has yet to make it fully automatic because it hasn’t put the opt-out policy in place where anyone interacting with a state agency has to opt out of automatically registering or updating their voter info.
The Secretary of State’s office has already implemented the first phase of automatic voter registration, which allows citizens to “opt-in” to register when get or update a driver’s license. The next phase will make the process automatic, meaning citizens won’t have to opt-in. Press Secretary Dave Drucker said the Secretary of State’s office has met the deadlines to comply with the law.
“I think the actual implementation will take a few months into 2019 in terms of the opt-out portion of it,” he said.
Drucker said the law is working as intended.
“We’ve doubled the number [of people] per month that have registered to vote,” Drucker said.
Just Democracy also said White’s office is unnecessarily requiring eligible voters to provide duplicative personal information.
Drucker said the national ID card standards known as the REAL ID was one factor.
“So in the short-term before REAL ID is fully implemented, which will be by the spring of 2019, we ask people to make a second signature and to check off two boxes,” Drucker said. “One that they are 18 years old and the other that they’re U.S. citizens and I don’t think anyone has been deprived by that extra step.”
“Cumbersome registration processes disproportionately affect communities of color,” said Just Democracy’s Ami Gandhi. “Every election, we hear from numerous eligible voters who face registration barriers and who need better access to voter registration.”
Just Democracy said it’s giving White’s office three months to take concrete steps to address their concerns or face litigation.
“A well-designed AVR system registers more eligible voters, saves taxpayer money, and results in a more accurate and secure voter list,” the group said.