Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) is the process of automatically registering eligible people to vote whenever they interact with a participating state government agency, such as the Secretary of State’s office. Here are 12 things you need to know:

  1. AVR is important because it provides a greater chance to reach Illinois’ two million eligible but unregistered voters*, gives them greater flexibility to register and has the potential to increase voter turnout.

    *According to U.S. Census data, Illinois has approximately 9 million citizens of voting age and of that figure, 6.6 million registered, and 2.3 million unregistered.

  2. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, ten states (including Illinois now) and D.C. have AVR right now. In addition, more than two dozen states have been considering AVR bills this year.

    AVR map
    Data: Brennan Center
  3. AVR was implemented in Oregon in January 2016. That state subsequently saw a six-percentage-point increase in youth voter turnout and a 26 percent increase in registration rates for people of color. In addition, AVR allowed Oregon to have a more efficient process of registering voters throughout the year, rather than registering voters right before Election Day.
  4. Illinois’ AVR law allows participating agencies to electronically transfer voter information to the State Board of Elections, creating a streamlined process to update voter rolls statewide.
  5. As part of the Just Democracy coalition, the Better Government Association long has advocated for AVR, which passed the Illinois General Assembly with bipartisan support. Gov. Rauner signed it into law Aug. 28, 2017.
What Happens Now
  1. Before AVR, in order to register to vote, you had to go to your local election authority, such as a county election commission, to fill out a form to register to vote.
  2. After AVR’s implementation, you can go to any Secretary of State’s office and be automatically be registered to vote when you apply for or renew your driver’s license. You can also go to the following agencies: Employment Security, Natural Resources, Financial & Professional Regulation, and Department of Human Services.
How You Will Experience AVR
  1. The driver’s license application form also will serve as a form to register to vote. This form can be used to change your voter registration address or name, too.
  2. No additional information will be required at that time to register to vote. All the information that is required right now to register or renew a driver’s license will suffice.
  3. You may opt out of registering to vote on that form too, if you so choose. You will then not be registered to vote.
  4. The registrant will be sent written notice if their voter information is not accepted or is incomplete and he or she will be asked to follow up with the appropriate agency.
  5. The State Board of Elections and every other election agency statewide will post information on how to register to vote.

Want more? For more on Automatic Voter Registration legislation in the United States, see below:

Brennan Center Analysis of Automatic Voter Registration

National Conference of State Legislatures Analysis of Automatic Voter Registration