052813br0117rSPRINGFIELD – State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) won Senate approval of a measure to allow voters to register online, a move that has helped other states register more people to vote and cut costs. It also makes changes to state law to make it easier to vote early and with absentee ballots and to fix several problems with Illinois’ electoral system.

“Our democracy is strengthened when more people participate,” Harmon said. “We can buy plane tickets, research stock options and even open our garage doors and start our cars online. There’s no reason in this day and age that a person shouldn’t be able to register to vote online.

“We also keep trying to find ways to save our cash-strapped state money. This is an easy way. Processing a paper registration costs 83 cents. Processing an online application costs 3 cents.”

Harmon’s plan, House Bill 2418, not only allows voters to register online, but it also allows election authorities to send notices using email, establishes more voter-friendly early voting hours, allows voters to request absentee ballots online and more.

Each measure has careful safeguards to prevent voter fraud and electoral abuses.

The legislation encourages participation in democracy by:

• Establishing online voter registration
• Allowing voters to receive notifications via email
• Requiring early voting locations in Illinois’ largest counties to be open Sunday afternoons rather than Sunday mornings
• Requiring early voting centers on college campuses to encourage young people to vote
• Making it easier for provisional votes to count by giving provisional voters seven days to provide evidence they are registered to vote and allowing certain votes cast at the wrong precinct to count
• Allowing voters to request absentee ballots online.

It fixes problems with Illinois’ electoral system by:

• Fixing a loophole that allows wealthy candidates to pay for their own elections without lifting the contribution cap for other candidates by donating to their own campaigns during the primary rather than the general election period
• Ensuring that super PACS can’t coordinate donations to prevent lifting contribution caps for other candidates
• Redirecting school board petition challenges to county election authorities
• Requiring the State Board of Elections to post vote totals within 52 days of an election.

Senator Harmon commended grassroots election reform organizations for their advocacy on behalf of the legislation. He cited as an example Chicago Votes, a nonpartisan organization that trains young people aged 16-35 in the leadership skills, civic knowledge and hands-on experience needed to have an impact on democracy. The group has been waging an intensive social media campaign on behalf of online registration.

"Online voter registration will help to bring about a new era of civic engagement in Illinois," said Rebecca Reynolds, Executive Director of Chicago Votes. "When every iPhone, library and computer lab becomes a site for voter registration, we open the doors for a wave of new voters to get registered, get to the polls, and get involved.”

"We thank Senator Harmon for his leadership on this and other critical issues relating to modernizing our voting system," said Reynolds. "He has been an incredible ally in this effort to make sure the democratic process is accessible to all Illinoisans, young and old."