Giannoulias Supports State Election Proposal Making It Easier to Register and Vote
Following Defeat of Federal Bills, Proposal Would Empower Voters, Result in More Accurate Voting Rolls
CHICAGO, IL – Democratic candidate for Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias is advocating for state legislation aimed at eliminating barriers when it comes to voting and adding Illinoisians to the registration rolls, his campaign announced today.
Giannoulias’ proposal comes a day after the defeat of federal voting rights legislation that would have made it easier for Americans to vote and reversed efforts by several Republican-led states to limit ballot access and disenfranchise voters.
Under Giannoulias’ plan, the Illinois General Assembly would make a technical change to the state’s automatic voter registration (AVR) system, which registers voters at certain government agencies, including at driver’s license facilities operated by the Secretary of State’s office.
Illinois currently administers a front-end AVR system that offers people the opportunity to “opt out” and not register while visiting a driver’s license facility. Giannoulias and other voting rights advocates want Illinois to implement a back-end system, which would automatically add eligible voters, who present a document demonstrating their citizenship, to the rolls without requiring additional steps on the part of the voter at the counter.
In back-end systems, eligible voters are automatically registered and are given the opportunity to decline after they leave the driver’s license facility, which is done by mail after their voting status is confirmed by an election authority. Every newly registered voter would receive a prepaid postcard notifying them that they are registered and could send back, opting out from registering if they choose.
“Making this small change to how the state registers voters will have an enormous impact on the election process by eliminating obstacles that make it more difficult for Illinoisians to register to vote, cast ballots and exercise their constitutional rights,” Giannoulias said. “It will make voting more efficient for voters, allow more accurate registration data and expand access for the state’s most vulnerable populations including lower-income communities, people of color and young people. Furthermore, it will reduce lines at driver’s license facilities and ease the burden on employees.”
Six states with AVR systems have adopted back-end systems, including Massachusetts, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Delaware, and Alaska.
Earlier this week, State Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-8), who represents Chicago’s northwest side and suburbs, introduced legislation that calls for the state to switch to a back-end system.
“This legislation represents game-changing policy for the state that would expand the electorate,” said Villivalam. “When Republican Secretaries of State across the country are pushing legislation to suppress voter rights and disenfranchise voters – particularly those of color – Illinois can take the lead to adopt measures that protect voter rights while encouraging greater participation in the electoral process. I look forward to working with Alexi to pass this legislation and ensure it is implemented properly when he becomes the next Secretary of State in Illinois.”
A front-end system requires voters to take additional steps to register to vote while they are interacting with a government agency, which takes more time and is less effective at registering voters.