This month, on April 4th, marked the 49th anniversary of MLK's assassination. Nearly fifty years later, we still have work to do to ensure voting rights and expand ballot access.
Here in Illinois, there are more than one million eligible voters that are not on the voter rolls. Many more are not able to vote because they can't afford to take off work to spend hours at the DMV or can't afford a car and thus, don't have a state-issued ID.
Unfortunately, too many people of color are affected by these barriers to the ballot box. Illinois is already below the national average when it comes to voter registration numbers, it's even worse when you only look at communities of color.
In recent years, Illinois has taken tremendous steps to improve our systems of democracy and justice, including laws that expand early voting and allow citizens to register to vote at the polls on Election Day called Election Day registration (EDR). According to Nonprofit Vote, after Illinois enacted EDR, our state was among the top four turnout increase states between 2012 and 2016 -- turnout was up 4 percent.
AVR will build upon these recent improvements and bring our elections into the 21st century by updating Illinoisans' voter registration cards whenever they interact with a state agency after a move.
At a time when our faith in government continues to decline and our politics are becoming increasingly polarized, we need to take heed to the teachings of Dr. King and recommit ourselves to the universal principles of justice, fairness, and equality for all.
Ra Joy, Andy Kang
Co-Chairs of Just Democracy Coalition