State updates voter registration system

An attorney for the Illinois State Board of Elections says a new law signed by the governor June 30 will bring the state’s voter registration system into the 21st century.

The law will create an Illinois Electronic Registration Information (ERIC) network to clean up voter rolls and allow new voters to register to vote online.

Jim Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois State Board of Elections, said the encrypted system allows voter information to be shared between states to ensure accuracy in voter rolls.

“ERIC compares the data from all of the various areas of the state and looks for people who have, for example, moved from one state to another and registered in their new state or perhaps are registered in one state and subsequently pass away in another in such a way that information doesn’t necessarily easily get back to the state in which they are registered,” he said.

“After receiving all of this information and comparing all of the data from all of the various states (ERIC) reports back to each state.”

Menzel said the system has been effective in the other 18 states that use it and will also help ensure that voter fraud doesn’t happen.

“We’ve found voters who have since registered in a new state or passed away somewhere else,” he said. “And that allows each of the states to keep their voter databases as tidy and up to date as possible.”

Menzel said the new system will reduce fraud and save local election officials money.

“Impersonation fraud of that type is not a really rampant problem at this point in time, but it eliminates opportunities for that,” he said. “By keeping the voter rolls cleaner, the election authorities aren’t preparing materials for people who aren’t any longer there and aren’t going to show up.”

State Sen. Terry Link, who sponsored the bill, said the system will not only modernize the state’s voter registration system but allow it to keep better track of voter records and ensure the election system’s integrity.

“Living in the 21st century means we can create a more modern system that will also achieve the goal of creating a smoother voting process,” Link said. “This is about making it easier to vote so everyone who have a say gets their voice heard.”

The new law also allows the use of digital signatures for election materials, including voter registration cards and applications.

–Illinois News Network

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