Republican Legislators Side With Rauner To Kill Automatic Voter Registration

Nov 29, 2016

Illinois residents will have to be proactive about registering to vote. A bill that would have automatically registered voters died Tuesday.  

Automatic voter registration was approved by lawmakers from both parties in the spring, but Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner rejected it. He says it opened the doors to voter fraud.

When sponsors brought it back before the House Tuesday in an attempt to override Rauner's veto, more than a dozen Republicans sided with the governor and dropped their support, meaning Rauner successfully killed the bill.

Democratic Rep. Carol Ammons of Urbana says that reversal sends messages to the public "of the rampant voter suppression supported by our Republican leadership in this country. And two, the desire to deny people the right to vote, not to increase the franchise, but to reduce it."

Ammons says Rauner's real problem with the bill is that more registered voters would hurt his chances for re-election in 2018.

GOP Rep. Mike Fortner of West Chicago voted against Senate Bill 250 both times. He says the plan is flawed.

Fortner says it would have created too long a government paper trial on anyone choosing to opt out of registering, and that's a security issue. Fortner says there are better ways to make registering easier, and backs recently-introduced GOP proposal.

"You could do it with something as easy as put a check box on the form when they're at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles," Fornter said. "In fact, a check box would be a good thing because federal law requires that the voter attest that they are eligible to register. They could do that all in the same shot."

Advocates of the proposal say those criticisms are overblown, that adequate safeguards are in place as shown by support from the state elections board and local election authorities, and that they'll try again in the future.