Illinois Bucks GOP Trend; Eases Voter Registration

At a time when 33 states have already enacted strict voter ID requirements for elections, Illinois decided this week to make it easier, not harder, for its citizens to vote. On Monday, August 28, Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a law Monday authorizing different state agencies to automatically register voters when they interact with them.

Illinois is the 10th state to adopt automatic voter registration, which can significantly strengthen voting rights. Activists are fighting relentlessly for these types of reforms as voter suppression becomes more and more commonplace. For example, this past year’s presidential election was the first in 50 years to be without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act.

In Wisconsin alone, the state’s voter-ID law suppressed 300,000 registered voters who lacked the proper identification. Multiple studies have shown that laws like these, enacted mostly by Republican legislators, led to a significant reduction in voter turnout in 2016, with a disproportionate impact on African-American and Democratic-leaning voters.

It is important for advocates to stay engaged after victories like the one in Illinois. Agencies must be held accountable and activists must push to make sure guidelines for implementation are created with voters’ protection in mind.