Add Illinois to the list of states where voting rights could be on the ballot this fall. Land of Lincoln lawmakers are advancing a bill that would put a proposed constitutional amendment on voting rights before the state’s voters in November. The Democratic-controlled House overwhelmingly passed the measure Tuesday afternoon with strong Republican support, and it’s expected to pass the Senate, which also is run by Democrats. If approved by voters this November, the proposal would add to the state’s constitution an affirmative right to register and vote. Illinois joins Ohio, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and California, all of which may ask voters to weigh in on the issue of access to the ballot in November. But while Illinoisans and Ohioans may be considering efforts to protect the franchise, voters in those other four states could be mulling whether to impose new restrictions.
The Illinois amendment states: “No person shall be denied the right to register to vote or to cast a ballot in an election based on race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or income.”
That’s much vaguer language than that found in Ohio’s proposed constitutional amendment, for which voting-rights advocates are currently gathering signatures to place on the ballot. The Ohio measure would specifically bar voter ID laws and ensure a minimum number of early voting days, among other provisions.
But supporters of the Illinois amendment say it would nonetheless make it easier to challenge voting restrictions in court, by barring voting laws that disproportionately affect minorities.