Automatic Voter Registration Proposal Dies In State House

November 29, 2016

An attempt to institute automatic voter registration in Illinois is dead. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner cited potential voter fraud when he previously rejected the legislation. 

Tuesday the House failed to override his veto.

The bill sought to allow visitors to a handful of state agencies to be automatically registered to vote unless they opt out. Rauner told lawmakers he liked the bill's concept, but feared there weren't enough fraud safeguards.

GOP State Representative Mike Fortner of West Chicago says the plan is flawed. He 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.

"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. In fact, a check box would be a good thing because federal law requires that the voter attest that they are eligible to register," he said. "They could do that all in the same shot."

Advocates of the proposal say those criticisms are overblown. They say they'll try again in the future.

Democrats who advocated for the override Tuesday were four votes shy of the 71 needed to have the bill become law despite the rejection from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Senate Democrats already approved a rejection of the veto.  

The outcome shows a reversal from many Republicans who supported the bill before Rauner's veto. It also illustrates the looming impact of Democrats losing four House seats come January.

Story source: Illinois Public Radio