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Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) said today, Aug. 12, that he will continue to champion efforts to expand access to voting in Illinois, despite the governor’s veto of bipartisan legislation that would have made Illinois the fifth state to enact automatic voter registration.

“I am troubled that Gov. Rauner chose to veto a measure that had bipartisan support in both houses of the legislature because of its promise for streamlining government, cutting costs for taxpayers and modernizing one aspect of the voting process,” Biss said.

“At a time when things are so polarized in Illinois government, it’s important that lawmakers and the governor find issues we can agree on and act on them. If we can’t agree on this – the importance of eliminating barriers to voting and saving taxpayers a little money in the process – then I worry that there are very few things we’ll ever agree on.”

Biss was a sponsor of Senate Bill 250, which would have initiated an opt-out voter registration system instead of Illinois’ current opt-in system. Under the proposal, eligible voters would have been automatically registered to vote when they visited the Illinois secretary of state and other similar state agencies for services.

The system would have curbed redundant paperwork, streamlined a government function, helped the state to clean up its voter rolls and saved money for taxpayers.

“The measure garnered bipartisan support in both houses of the legislature this spring. The Senate voted 42-16 for the legislation, and the House voted 86-30 for it.

Four states, including California, Oregon, West Virginia and Vermont, implemented automatic voter registration systems and have realized significant savings for local and state governments.

 Representative Robyn Gabel said:

“I am deeply disappointed that Governor Rauner chose to veto the Automatic Voter Registration Bill (SB250) that I sponsored.  This bill was agreed upon by a myriad of state agencies, civic organizations and had overwhelming bipartisan support. 

“SB 250 would automatically send correct information to register people to vote when they interacted with state agencies, for example, getting or renewing a driver’s license.

“Voting is a basic American right, not a prize for those who overcome bureaucratic roadblocks. We need to enact policies that allow all citizens to vote, enabling full participation in our democracy. Automatic voter registration, a system of data sharing, protects the integrity of the voter registration process in an efficient manner.

I will continue to fight for the enfranchisement of all people in this state and make every effort to negotiate with the Governor’s office for a new bill or work to override the Governor’s veto.”