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CHICAGO – Illinois PIRG Education Fund released a new report today that collects perspectives from County Clerks, on both sides of the aisle and from across Illinois, on Automatic Voter Registration or AVR. A bill to implement automatic voter registration is currently being considered by the Illinois General Assembly.
Two major themes coming out of the interviews with clerks were that automatic voter registration could save time and money on Election Days by making voter rolls more accurate and that overall the budget impact would be neutral.
Abe Scarr, Illinois PIRG Education Fund director said, “Every eligible citizen – Democrat, Republican or Independent – has the fundamental right to have his or her vote counted on Election Day. We’ve found automatic voter registration could help protect that right by making registration more modern, accurate and secure.”
The report is introduced to the reader with a letter from David Orr, Cook County Clerk. In 2013, Orr called for an “all in” strategy to modernize voter registration and today he sees automatic voter registration as the next key element.
When eligible voters can be added to voter rolls automatically, it means Election Day can be run more efficiently and Election Day registration can be a backstop option. Noah Praetz, Director of Elections for Suburban Cook County reported that 75% of his Election Day registrants used state IDs that had the same address they were registering at the day of voting. This means a majority of that 75% could have already been on the rolls through an AVR system.
Gordy Hulten, a downstate republican clerk and the current president of the Illinois Association of County Clerks and Recorders, is supportive of the concept of AVR and a vocal advocate for digitizing operations wherever possible. He said “I think we’ll find cost savings in being able to operate on Election Day more efficiently….and if we can do AVR in a way that’s paperless and electronic, the way we do with online registration, then the net expense for us will be pretty negligible.”
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