Automatic voter registration going slowly by State
August 3, 2018

Motorists in Illinois who obtain or renew driver’s licenses now have a shortcut to registering to vote, but it will not be until January—after the November elections—that registration will become automatic under the 2017 automatic voter registration law, which became effective July 1.

“Everyone will be asked if they want to register to vote,” said Brenda Glahn, assistant general counsel for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. “All that information will be electronically sent to the State Board of Elections every day.”

In January 2019, “instead of asking people if they want to register, we will tell them they are automatically” registered, she said. People who do not want to vote will not be required to, but they will be registered.

“Other agencies have a different timeline,” Glahn said. “They will come on board after we do.” Agencies such as the Department of Employment Security, Department of Human Services, and Department of Natural Resources have until July 2019 to make automatic registration effective.

That is not as soon as a coalition of voter-rights groups, Just Democracy, wishes. The coalition accuses the State of stalling on full implementation of the law until after the November elections. Andy Kang, an official with one coalition member, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, said the law required full implementation this month.

Not so, said Glahn, who asserted, “There is not a delay.”

Another spokesman for White, Dave Druker, agreed. “We strongly feel we are not delayed,” he said. “We disagree with the interpretation that we have held up” implementation.

Another coalition is resigned to the timeline. “We anticipate it will be implemented in January,” but advocates were hoping for a more rapid implementation, said Abe Scarr, director of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group.

“The 2018 elections will be a huge motivation for new voter registrations and registration updates, and Illinois voters deserve the modern, efficient, secure voter registration system the Illinois Legislature promised,” Kang said.

To reach the Secretary of State’s office, log on to or call (312) 793-1010.

—Susan S. Stevens