Behind Rauner's Automatic Voter Registration Veto

Aug 14, 2016

As supporters of automatic voter registration are set to hold a press conference Monday morning, Gov. Bruce Rauner is defending his veto of a plan that would have made it a reality in Illinois.

Rauner says he’s a big supporter of the concept, and as evidence points out he signed separate legislation to modernize the state’s voting systems.

But he says the measure inadvertently leaves the door open to voter fraud.

“We need to clean up the bill. I think we can get it done with some proper modifications … What we tried to do is give the feedback through the media to the legislature: here are the tweaks, I think there were six or seven changes that we’d recommend, to make it comply with federal election law,” he said this weekend.

Legislation approved in May would essentially flip the burden for voter registration.

No longer would a voter have to proactively register. Rather, anytime a resident interacts with government say, when renewing a driver’s license, or applying for unemployment benefits, it’d happen automatically.

Therein lies the problem that Gov. Bruce Rauner says led to his veto.

“That can create a problem because not everyone in Illinois who interacts with state government and receives some government benefits is a citizen. And so there’s not a direct overlap, there," Rauner said.

Backers of automatic voter registration are suspicious the veto is a delay tactic, meant to keep the law from being in place when Rauner would be up for re-election in 2018. They're trying to gin up public pressure for a veto override, including with a Monday morning press conference featuring Cook County Clerk David Orr. Enough lawmakers initially voted for the plan that it’s possible; but not if Republicans switch their votes to side with the governor.