STATEMENT: CAP Congratulates Illinois and Rhode Island on Adoption of Automatic Voter Registration

Washington, D.C. — Today, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bipartisan bill establishing a statewide automatic voter registration (AVR) system in Illinois. The program modernizes the state’s voter registration system by using available technology and information the state already receives to create more accurate and secure voter registration lists. The announcement comes on the heels of Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) signing into law that state’s AVR bill in July. With the addition of Illinois, 10 states have now adopted AVR. Liz Kennedy, director of democracy and government reform at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:

AVR is a commonsense, secure, and modern way to lower barriers to participation so more eligible Americans can have their voices heard and represented in our government. The law signed today by Gov. Rauner will help a large number of eligible Illinois residents from diverse backgrounds engage in self-government by using existing information and technology in an innovative way. At a time when our democracy is being threatened by foreign interference and domestic voter suppression, we must use new tools to safeguard the electoral process and right to vote for every eligible American. By passing and signing AVR into law, Illinois and Rhode Island are leading by example and other states would be wise to follow.

As research has shown, AVR is beneficial for state election administrators and voters alike because it makes the voter registration process more accurate and efficient while removing barriers to voter participation. For example, after Oregon implemented its AVR program in 2016, the state added more than 272,000 new people to the voter rolls, with more than 98,000 of them turning out to vote for the first time in the November 2016 presidential election. Research also shows that AVR registrants and voters are younger, more diverse, and more likely to come from low-income and rural communities, compared with those who register through more traditional means. For example, 40 percent of people added through the rolls through AVR and 37 people who voted after being added through AVR were 18- to 29-year-olds, which is striking since they make up only 20 percent of Oregon’s population.

CAP experts are available to speak on this topic. To coordinate, please contact Tanya Arditi at tarditi@americanprogress.org or 202-741-6258.

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