On July 27, Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation revising the Illinois Election Code to give residents the ability to register to vote online. First proposed by Governor Quinn during his 2013 State of the State address, Illinois is now the 18th state to allow online voter registration. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to increase participation in our democracy and ensure that every voice is heard in Illinois.
“Democracy works best when as many voters as possible raise their voices at the ballot box,” Governor Quinn said. “Online voter registration will encourage more people to fulfill their civic duty by making that first step of registering to vote easier and more accessible. This new law will boost registration rates, cut costs and move Illinois’ democratic process into the 21st century.”
The 17 states that currently offer online voter registration have realized its benefits which include higher voter registration rates – particularly among young people – and lower processing costs.
“Online voter registration is the biggest advancement in expanding the electorate since Motor Voter passed 20 years ago,” Cook County Clerk David Orr said. “I’ve long supported online voter registration because it’s a convenient, secure way for voters to get registered and start participating.”
“Online voter registration brings Illinois’ election process into the 21st century,” House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) said. “Making it easier for people to exercise one of our most fundamental and significant rights – the right to vote – is good for democracy.”
“This law will increase participation in our democracy,” State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) said. “But it will do more than that. It will also save the state money. Processing a paper registration costs 83 cents. Processing an online application costs 3 cents.”
Online voter registration is part of House Bill 2418 – the “Omnibus Elections Bill” – which includes other provisions, such as:
- Changing the hours for early voting on Sundays from 9:00 a.m. – Noon, to Noon – 3:00 p.m., to enable broader participation;
- Requiring the State Board of Elections to post precinct-by-precinct totals for all of the state’s precincts, and;
- Codifying that votes cast for a candidate who drops out before Election Day but remains on the ballot will not be counted.
States that offer online voter registration include Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. Four more states – Delaware, New Mexico, New York and Ohio – have modified versions. Online voter registration is expected to be in place in Illinois by the 2014 General Election.
Earlier this month, Governor Quinn signed a law to allow 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by the time of the general election to participate in that cycle’s primary election. According to FairVote, 20 other states permit 17-year-olds to vote in the primary election.