SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) joined colleagues as they explained why Illinois needs automatic voter registration. Illinois is ranked 23rd in the nation in percentage of eligible residents registered to vote, and the result is low levels of turnout and civic engagement. Supporters of Senate Bill 2134 say allowing eligible voters to opt out of being registered rather than having to opt in will also improve efficiency, accuracy and fraud detection.
“Today’s young people are activists, and they are aware, but we need to help them make the link between protest and policy change, to become fully engaged in all facets of life in our democracy,” said Collins, who noted that only 40 percent of Illinoisans between the ages of 18 and 24 who are eligible to vote are registered. “That link is made at the ballot box.”
The legislation Collins is co-sponsoring, SB 2134, would automatically register voting-eligible residents whenever they apply for, update or renew their driver’s licenses, unless they ask not to be registered. Because obtaining or changing the address on a driver’s license requires rigorous proof of identity and residence, registering more voters at Driver Services facilities could actually decrease the probability of voter fraud. The new approach would also streamline the voter registration process, eliminating duplicative paperwork.
“Through immense struggles that defined us as a nation, many of those forgotten and marginalized have found their voices in the vote,” Collins said. “Now, we need to hear the voices of the next generation, as we bend toward greater inclusion.”