In response to an SVM editorial from May 13 titled “Voters want more than pols will give,” we agree, there are several solutions needed to increase civic participation, including gerrymandering reform. But automatic voter registration is one of those key reforms.
Automatic voter registration has been proven to increase voter turnout. As a result of Oregon’s implementation of automatic voter registration, youth voter turnout rose 20 percent in 2016 from the 2012 election. Within communities of color, turnout increased 26 percent between December 2015 to January 2017.
Simply put, when more citizens are registered to vote, more citizens go vote.
Eight politically diverse states – Oregon, California, Vermont, Connecticut, Colorado, Georgia, Alaska and West Virginia – in addition to Washington, D.C., have all passed similar automatic voter registration laws. Illinois’ Senate clearly saw the opportunity to improve voter turnout when they passed automatic voter registration, 48-0, in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote with 22 Republicans and 26 Democrats voting in favor.
Automatic voter registration would allow 1.13 million eligible citizens to join Illinois’ voter rolls.
Automatic voter registration will cut costs for state and local government, while keeping the system secure from potential mistaken registration and fraud.
We hope both parties in our state house as well as our governor will support this bill.
A democracy works only if we have as many voices heard as possible.
It’s time that Illinois became a leader in voter participation.
Note to readers: Bradley McMillan is executive director of the Institute for Principled Leadership in Public Service at Bradley University and vice chairman of the board at CHANGE Illinois.