Automatic Voter Registration

Published on Author Scott KennedyLeave a comment

In late May Senate Bill 250 passed both chambers and will soon be sent to the Governor for signature.

The key feature of the bill is to allow for the automatic registration of eligible voters (or updating the registration for voters who have moved) after interacting with one of the five state agencies that currently participate in the “motor voter” program: the Secretary of State, Department of Aging, Department of Employment Security, Department of Human Services and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services. These new provisions are to be implemented no later than January 1, 2018. The bill allows for the State Board of Elections to allow other agencies to participate as well, for example the Department of Revenue.

After interacting with one of the participating agencies the agency will electronically send all of the relevant information to the State Board of Elections who will review the information and then send it to the local election authority who will make the final determination for properly registering the voter. The bill lays out the procedures for validating eligibility, notification when a participant is not eligible and there are explicit protections in place so that a previously registered voter may still vote a full ballot in the event that an automatic change in that voter’s registration causes an error in their registration.

Here are a few of the bill’s other features:

  • The State Board of Elections and participating government agencies must implement policies and procedures to protect the privacy and security of the data being transmitted between agencies.
  • The agencies are directed to adopt practices to protect the information of individuals, such as domestic violence survivors, who have order of protection or otherwise need to keep their personal information off of a publicly available voter list.
  • The State Board will submit an annual report specifying the number of various types of transmittals and registrations specified by the bill.
  • State agency and election authority websites will be updated to include information about the new registration procedures.
  • The State Board of Elections is required to hold at least one public hearing by January 1, 2017.
  • If an ineligible voter is accidentally registered automatically through no fault of their own they are not deemed to have committed a crime.

 

Thank you to Abe Scarr of Illinois PIRG for sharing your bill analysis with me.

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