After a series of fits and starts, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner on Monday signed an automatic voter registration bill.
The bill, which was originally scheduled to be signed back in July, passed the General Assembly unanimously after changes were made to the language of the law.
“SB 1933 removes a barrier to voter participation by modernizing the voter registration process to make it simpler and more convenient for Illinoisans to vote,” Rauner said in a statement. “We hope this streamlined process will encourage more voter participation, so that constituents’ voices are heard and their interests are represented.”
According to the bill, automatic voter registration will be run through the Secretary of State’s office, with implementation scheduled to be completed in time for the 2018 elections.
The bill will allow voters to be automatically registered to vote through an electronic process when they’re applying for a driver’s license or a state ID, unless they opt out.
According to the group Common Cause Illinois, which was one of the biggest proponents of the new legislation, there are up to two million eligible voters who have not registered in the state of Illinois.
The group says that the bill improves accessibility to the ballot for rural voters, active military personnel, and senior citizens.
A version of the bill originally passed in 2016, but it was vetoed by Governor Rauner over concerns that the bill didn’t do enough to address concerns about voter fraud and had other potential conflicts with federal law.
The new version of the bill includes language that ensures that it’s compliant with the Real ID Law, which screens out non-citizens and ensures that only legal Illinois residents will be registered.
Thanks to those new provisions, the bill passed the House and Senate unanimously in late May.
Rauner was originally supposed to sign the bill in a ceremony with the Rainbow PUSH Coalition earlier this summer, but amid staff turnover amongst his senior advisers and media team, the signing ceremony was postponed.