Illinois to be the ninth state to approve universal (automatic) voter registration

The Huffington Post reports GOP Illinois Governor Will Sign Automatic Voter Registration After Vetoing It Last Year:

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) intends to sign legislation supported by both chambers of the Illinois legislature that will automatically register people to vote when they interact with state drivers’ facilities and other state agencies.

The decision to sign the legislation marks a big victory for voting rights advocates. Rauner vetoed a similar measure last year. At the time, he said the legislation would “inadvertently open the door to voter fraud and run afoul of federal election law.”

But a few changes were apparently enough to convince Rauner to sign on to automatic voter registration, which has already led to considerable gains in the number of registered voters in Oregon, the first state to implement it last year. Illinois would be the ninth state to adopt automatic voter registration, and advocates estimate it could add over 1 million voters to the state’s rolls.

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“We must protect the sanctity of our election process, and we thank the bill sponsors and stakeholders who worked with us on this piece of legislation. The Governor will sign it,” Eleni Demertzis, a Rauner spokeswoman wrote in an email.

The measure passed the Illinois House 115-0 on Monday and will head to the state Senate for consideration of the bill with the changes. The Senate previously passed a version of it 48-0.

The new measure requires voters to affirm they are eligible to vote and gives them the option to opt out.

Advocates also earned Republican support by adopting a version of automatic voter registration introduced by the GOP last year. The language in the bill was virtually the same as the one pushed by Democrats, just with a different structure, said Andy Kang, legal director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago.

Some noted the version of automatic voter registration Rauner will sign isn’t as robust as it could be. But advocates disputed the suggestion that the new bill was watered down in any way.

“We tried to stay true to the principles that had been expressed by our partners in the coalition,” Jay Young, political director at Common Cause Illinois, one of the groups that pushed automatic voter registration, said in an interview. “And we really felt like it was probably tactically helpful to provide folks on that side of the aisle with language that they were comfortable with and familiar with. We got pretty much everything we were hoping for in terms of how we wanted this to go forward.”

So why can’t we get this done in Arizona? What’s the holdup? Let’s get this done.

UPDATE: And while the Arizona legislature is at it, how about getting rid of our Jim Crow felony disenfranchisement laws? Even the state of Alabama — Alabama — is beginning to restore felon voting rights. Gov. Ivey signs bill restoring ‘thousands’ of Alabama felons’ right to vote.

And the stae of Florida — Florida — may have a ballot initiative on the 2018 ballot to restore felon voting rights. Florida voters could restore voting rights to almost 2 million felons in 2018.

Arizona should not be more backwards than the old Jim Crow South.

10 responses to “Illinois to be the ninth state to approve universal (automatic) voter registration

  1. Senator John Kavanagh

    I believe most felons were convicted of only one felony, so they get their voting rights restored automatically, after the complete their full sentence. That’s simple.

  2. Sen. John Kavanagh

    Voting rights for those convicted of a single felony are AUTOMATICALLY restored after they complete their sentence, finish supervision via probation or parole and pay their fines and restitution. We call this restorative justice. When they pay the price for the the harm they caused by serving their sentence and paying their debt to society and their victim, they have their voting right restored. Seems fair.
    Multiple felons must meet the same requirements but must go to the court that sentenced them to have voting rights restored because a judge must be convinced that they are truly “restored” members of society and are not still criminal outsiders.

    • AZ BlueMeanie

      Therein lies the problem: after a prisoner has served their physical incarceration in prison (the sentence), the fines and restitution serve as a “poll tax” which prevents them from exercising their franchise as a citizen. Disenfrachisement came into prominence with Jim Crow laws after the Civil War. These laws are being challenged as a poll tax in several states. Maine and Vermont are the only two states that allow incarcerated prisoners to vote. You make the Arizona system sound simple, but it is not. It lies within the discretion of the County Attorney to make a recommendation to the court. County Attorneys, in my experience, have not been very willing to do this. Maybe you can provide some statistics on the number of requests made versus the number of requests actually granted. I suspect it is not favorable.

      • Senator John Kavanagh

        A tax is a payment to the government for services. Fines are payments to the government as a former of punishment. Restitution, which you forgot to mention, is payment to the victim as compensation for harm done. All are legal. A poll tax is an unconstitutional payment used to deter the poor from voting. These are all very different.

        Not fully completing one’s sentence is not an excuse to deprive a person of their vote. It’s rationale is twofold.

        First, it is based upon the belief that one who commits a serious crime has harmed society and relinquishes some of the rights those in good standing have. It is a less serious former of traditional banishment. And some of the rights never return, some do automatically and some need to be earned back, usually by good behavior..
        Second, it is an enducement to fully complete one’s sentence to insure victim compensation and to balance the scales by having the offender pay his or her debt to society.

        I think it is reasonable.

  3. Senator John Kavanagh

    People can register to vote in Arizona, when they apply for their driver’s license. If they want to, they check a box. If not, they don’t check the box.

    • some people have fines and can’t get id. others don’t have their birth certificates. kavanagh you and your republican ilk are lucky that the democrats in this state are to busy with their special interests to put an initiative on the ballot to make it a crime to prevent a u.s. citizen from registering or voting in arizona. every time I go to vote with my utility bills as ID. they won’t let me vote until I threaten to have them arrested for violating the voter laws. I recommend every one here do the same so polling places get used to it and won’t try and give someone a provisional ballot. I laugh when they try this stunt with me until I tell them the law and ask them if they are ready to be arrested for violating the law.

      • Sen. John Kavanagh

        My comment dealt with how easy it currently is to register to vote in Arizona. Your comment deals with eliminating id requirements to register to vote and vote. Two different things and yours will never happen.

  4. For Sure Not Tom

    In a supposedly Christian society, we forgive those who trespass against us, right? Why wouldn’t we restore voting rights to felons?

    Why do we punish people for life? They did the time, paid the fine.

    Oh, shoot, that’s right, we mostly lock up black folks. That’s why.

    My bad.