Rauner stands by automatic voter registration veto

In this Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 photo, Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate businessman Bruce Rauner participates in a Republican gubernatorial candidate debate in Springfield Ill. As he runs for governor, Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner can't shake questions about his daughter's admission to an elite Chicago public school where he made a hefty donation. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Despite saying he supports the overall concept, Gov. Bruce Rauner is sticking by his veto of a measure to automatically register voters who interact with state agencies.

Supporters of the legislation criticized Gov. Rauner’s veto saying he didn’t understand what was in the bill. Deputy Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Kathleen Yang-Clayton said they worked hard to craft the legislation.

“At any time the governor could have raised his concerns with Senate Bill  250,” she said, “but instead he waited until the eleventh hour and vetoed a good bill,” she said.

Gov. Rauner said his administration was engaged in the process and is still engaged but he believes the bill violates federal election law.

“The bill itself does not have a requirement for people to actually sign the application to register to vote and proactively say they want to register,” he said.

Rauner claims that the law would put Illinois in violation of federal statutes. Critics disagree, however, saying Rauner has misinterpreted the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) in his veto motion.

“The Governor’s message that individuals must be given the opportunity to decline registration at the DMV is a misreading of the NVRA,” said Abe Scarr of Illinois PIRG, a Chicago-based consumer advocacy group.

“That is a requirement at the social service agencies, and for those agencies, the bill was drafted to place the opt-out at the point of agency interaction. It is not a requirement of DMV transactions”

Democratic State Rep. Carol Ammons said SB 250 was an effort to combat voter suppression. “So I urge the governor to work with us to find a reasonable way to bring efficiency to the voting process,” she said.

Gov. Rauner said he still supports the concept of the bill but his veto is meant to ensure voter integrity.

Gov. Rauner said his veto message offers ideas to fix the legislation “so we can encourage voters, everyone who wants to vote and is entitled to vote, to be able to vote very easily but make sure we try to eliminate risk of inadvertent voter fraud or inappropriate voting.”

However, Scarr says the unwillingness of the Rauner camp to enter discussions over SB 250 earlier in the year led directly to the governor’s veto.

“Under SB250, individuals have an ongoing opportunity to opt out, but not at the point of DMV interaction,” he said. “We communicated in negotiations that we would be ok with providing the opportunity to decline address updates at the DMV, if the individual is presented at the time with their current registration status.

“That request of the Governor’s office, like most of their requests, could have and would have been incorporated in the bill language had they engaged in April or May, but they did not.”

Regardless of Gov. Rauner’s proposed fixes Ammons is urging a veto override. The bill passed the General Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses.

Lawmakers in the state senate aren’t scheduled back in session until Nov. 15, after the general election.

–Illinois News Network, with Staff reports

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