This story is part of Capitol News Illinois’ coverage of the race for secretary of state ahead of the Tuesday, June 28 primary. We’re reaching out to all of the candidates this week to discuss their policy positions and plans for the office should they be elected.
Chicago Alderman David Moore is one of four Democrats vying to succeed Secretary of State Jesse White, who has held the office since 1999.
He sat down for interview with Capitol News Illinois on Friday, June 17, discussing his plans for digital license plates, an outreach campaign for youth voters, modernization of the SOS office and where there’s room for improvement.
Moore, an alderman for Chicago’s 17th ward since 2015, has lagged behind former state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias and Chicago City Clerk Anna Valencia in fundraising and big-name endorsements in the SOS race, leading him to embrace an “underdog” title which he has played up in digital advertising.
His interview with CNI at the Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport in Springfield came as part of a day-long fly-around in Illinois on a private jet which he said was an in-kind contribution to his campaign.
Referring to the secretary of state office as a “customer-driven operation,” he said he’d like to see state libraries used as satellite offices.
“More like community connectors,” he said. “Not only from the driver services side, but getting more engaged and making sure our communities are utilizing our libraries, whether we’re providing more broadband access, or whether we’re providing different activities for youth through (virtual reality) technology, allowing them to use those libraries.”
In Illinois, the secretary of state is also the state’s librarian and archivist, overseeing several grant programs for public libraries throughout the state, distributing about $109 million for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1.
The department also oversees registration of lobbyists and security of the Capitol Complex, and is most visible in its driver services capacity. In all, the secretary of state’s office has about 4,000 employees and a $600 million budget.
Moore said fees for licenses and registrations, which are determined by lawmakers in the General Assembly, are too expensive in Illinois and he’d look to work with lawmakers on ways to lower them.
In Gov. JB Pritzker’s first year in office in 2019, lawmakers voted to raise several driving-related fees, including for a vehicle registration, upping it to $151 from $101. That was part of the funding mechanism for the Rebuild Illinois capital infrastructure plan to fund road and bridge upkeep.
Moore is a backer of digital license plates, which he said could serve as a cost-saving measure, even if the plates themselves are expensive. He said titling, registration and annual renewal could be done on a digital license plate platform, which saves customers and the state hours worked on renewals.
Moore pointed to states like Michigan, Arizona and California having adopted digital license plates. The company that provides those lists the cost of a digital license plate at $19.99 to $24.99 monthly depending on whether it is battery operated or wired. Four-year subscriptions are available at $214.99 to $275.99 per year for the two options.
Moore said he’d look to implement an advertising function on the digital plates, “almost like a mini billboard,” in which drivers can opt into the program to receive discounts on their driving-related fees and revenue could be generated for the state.
“You’ve always got to find ways to generate new revenue,” he said. “And through those license plates, you generate new revenue that’s not there that enables you to either maintain those fees at the levels or reduce them.”
New revenues, he said, would allow state lawmakers to reconsider their current fee structures. He also said he would work with the General Assembly to try to secure state and federal infrastructure funds to help modernize the secretary of state digital infrastructure.
Another benefit of digital plates, he said, is that the digital platform can be used to report cars stolen, thus helping to apprehend carjackers.
“If somebody steals your car or you get carjacked, you can get to a cell phone, put in a code, and guess what’s going to read out on the digital plates – stolen,” he said. “And so now you can apprehend the person when he’s in the vehicle.”
Moore said he’d work with the General Assembly to determine what level of registration fees are needed for an individual who has a digital plate.
Moore said he will also look to increase participation in voting by looking to implement automatic registration for an individual when they turn 18, by sending them a birthday card saying they are automatically registered and giving them an opportunity to opt out.
“If you have an ID, anything that we have from the standpoint of having a record of your information of coming into the Secretary of State’s office, and when you turn 18, and we have that information, you’re going to automatically get a birthday card from us and you’re automatically registered to vote,” he said.
In other youth outreach plans, Moore said he would like to see the state’s 122 driver service facilities, some of which are appointment only, double as youth engagement offices, offering year-round internships through public-private partnerships.
The full conversation with Moore is available on the Capitol News Illinois Capitol Cast podcast, which you can find on most podcast apps or by clicking here.