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Grade TL;DR

Illinois’ Legislature passed a number of pro-voter initiatives in what is already a substantial pro-voter landscape. However, Illinois also failed to upgrade its automatic voter registration system to a more secure, efficient, and improved system, leaving millions of eligible voters unregistered to vote in the state. With that, Illinois received a B on this year’s progress report.

Looking Back

Where Illinois Started in 2020

  • Automatic Voter Registration: Front-End
  • Online Voter Registration: DMV ID
  • Same-Day Registration: Yes
  • Restoration of Rights: Prison Disenfranchisement
  • Vote by Mail: No-Excuse
  • Electronic Registration Information Center Member: Yes
  • Early Voting Opportunities: Regular Ballot Early Voting
  • ID Requirements: No Document Required

Relying on the Cost of Voting Index for Illinois as of 2020, we considered the state a top tier state for pre-existing voting policy and compared its 2021-22 activity against other top tier states.

How Our Tier Compares:

  • COVI (2020): 4th
  • EPI Score (2020): 23rd
  • CLC State Scorecard (2022): 10/10
  • MAP Democracy Rating (2022): MEDIUM

2021: Two Years Ago

Legislative Action

The Illinois Assembly passed several bills to expand vote-by-mail access, as well as help facilitate the restoration of voting rights for individuals that were formerly incarcerated.

  • S 825 establishes a permanent absentee mailing list, increases cybersecurity requirements for local election office website, and allows all county sheriffs to create temporary polling places in county jails, among other things.
  • H 1871 authorizes drop boxes and allows jurisdictions to offer curbside voting.
  • H 3235 designates the Department of Corrections as a voter registration agency and requires the Dept to provide voter registration information to individuals in custody 45 days before their release.
  • S 2116 requires the Department of Juvenile Justice to expand its existing civics education program to include training from a non-profit that is specifically trained in voting rights education.

Implementation/Administrative Action

  • The secretary of state and State Board of Elections settled a lawsuit regarding shortcomings in the state’s implementation of automatic voter registration through the driver licensing division. While the settlement eliminated some duplicative questions on the application, the automatic voter registration system remains less streamlined than comparable systems in other states.

2022: This Past Year

Legislative Action

During the 2022 session, the Assembly passed legislation that will greatly improve ballot access for voters with print disabilities.

  • S 829 requires the state to have a new certified remote accessible vote-by-mail system up and running by the 2022 general election that allows voters to receive their ballot electronically and mark and vote their ballot using assistive technology.
  • Unfortunately, the Legislature failed to advance legislation that would have updated the existing automatic voter registration system to make it more secure, efficient, and effective at registering voters.