GOP Illinois Governor Will Sign Automatic Voter Registration After Vetoing It Last Year

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) intends to sign legislation supported by both chambers of the Illinois legislature that will automatically register people to vote when they interact with state drivers’ facilities and other state agencies.

The decision to sign the legislation marks a big victory for voting rights advocates. Rauner vetoed a similar measure last year. At the time, he said the legislation would “inadvertently open the door to voter fraud and run afoul of federal election law.”

But a few changes were apparently enough to convince Rauner to sign on to automatic voter registration, which has already led to considerable gains in the number of registered voters in Oregon, the first state to implement it last year. Illinois would be the ninth state to adopt automatic voter registration, and advocates estimate it could add over 1 million voters to the state’s rolls.

“We must protect the sanctity of our election process, and we thank the bill sponsors and stakeholders who worked with us on this piece of legislation. The Governor will sign it,” Eleni Demertzis, a Rauner spokeswoman wrote in an email.

The measure passed the Illinois House 115-0 on Monday and will head to the state Senate for consideration of the bill with the changes. The Senate previously passed a version of it 48-0.

The new measure requires voters to affirm they are eligible to vote and gives them the option to opt out. 

“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,” state Sen. Andy Manar (D), one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement. “If he is serious about modernizing Illinois government and saving money for taxpayers, then automatic voter registration is an excellent way to do both.”

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