EDITORIAL: Attention Illinois, don’t let up on automatic voter registration

SHARE EDITORIAL: Attention Illinois, don’t let up on automatic voter registration

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White shows the new driver’s license that will feature upgraded security left) and the temporary paper license that will be issued at license facilities. | Rich Hein for the Sun-Times

National Voter Registration Day was Tuesday, and it’s a little easier to register in Illinois.

Under the first phase of the state’s automatic voter registration law, citizens can “opt-in” to register when they obtain or update a driver’s license or state ID at a secretary of state facility. Anyone who is a U.S. citizen and will be 18 on or before Election Day is eligible to register.

Great, but it’s just a first step. Secretary of State Jesse White must go full steam ahead on automatic registration — no “opt-in” needed — as quickly as possible. After all, that was the goal of the automatic voter registration law that Illinois enacted last year in a bill that received bipartisan support.


Even Gov. Bruce Rauner, an early opponent of the concept, finally came around to the notion of making it easier for citizens to participate in their own democracy. He signed the bill after legislators tweaked it enough to address his (inflated) concerns about (mostly non-existent) voter fraud.

At the time, Illinois was the 10th state to adopt an automatic voter registration law. To date, 13 states and the District of Columbia have done so, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

Now the secretary of state’s office is under fire from some voting activists and legislators, who accuse White of dragging his feet on implementing the law. White’s office plans to have the automatic registration in place early next year — watch the calendar on that — and says the delay is due to the rollout of the Real ID program (a federal identification program) for driver’s licenses or state IDs.

Meanwhile, if you’re not registered to vote for the Nov. 6 election, do so.You can register online through the Illinois State Board of Elections website through Oct. 21, if you have an Illinois driver’s license or state ID. 

If you don’t have a driver’s license or state ID, you can fill out the Illinois Online Voter Application form, andprint, sign and mail it by Oct. 9. Or you can register in person by Oct. 9 atone of the Cook County Clerk’s six locationsa village, city or township clerk‘s office; or via a deputy registrar.

You can register to vote on Election Day, but onlyat your home precinct.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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