State Senate overrides Rauner veto on automatic voter registration

The Illinois State Senate Wednesday voted to overturn Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of an automatic voter registration bill.

SB250 would add around two million more voters to the rolls in Illinois beginning with the 2018 election. The bill had garnered overwhelming support in both chambers of the General Assembly, passing 86-30 in the House and 50-7 in the Senate in May.

“I strongly support efforts to encourage greater voter participation in our democracy and share the goals of this legislation,” Rauner said in a statement at the time.

“Unfortunately, as currently drafted, the bill would inadvertently open the door to voter fraud and run afoul of federal election law. We will continue working with the legislature and key stakeholders on language that meets our shared goals while complying with federal law and preventing voter fraud,” he added.

Numerous studies have shown voter fraud to be almost nonexistent, and federal courts have stated that the threat of illegal voting is not a serious enough justification for laws that make it harder for eligible voters to participate.

During the recent general election, states such as Wisconsin that implemented draconian voter suppression laws saw decreased turnout, while Oregon, which adopted its own automatic registration law in 2015, saw record numbers at the polls.

“There’s a rising electorate in this country that threatens the current power structure,” Christian Diaz, the executive director of the organization Chicago Votes, told ThinkProgress. “A lot of the hateful rhetoric we heard this election cycle was connected to this fear. This was the first election to happen without the national Voting Rights Act in place.”

“We need to make sure voting is accessible and available to every single citizen who wants to participate.”

Common Cause Illinois, a political advocacy group that supported the measure, has accused Rauner of wanting to delay the proposal beyond the fall 2018 election when the governor’s office is on the ballot.

If the bill clears the House, Illinois would be following Oregon, California, West Virginia, Vermont and Connecticut in adopting automatic voter registration laws.

–Staff report

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