Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill aimed at making voter registration automatic in Illinois, citing concerns about potential voting fraud and conflicts with federal law. The first-term Republican governor said he wanted to continue negotiations with supporters to work out those issues, but groups backing the measure accused him of playing politics with his veto and said they would seek an override. The legislation, approved on the final day of the spring session in May, received overwhelming support, 86-30 in the House and 50-7 in the Senate. If those totals held, the governor’s move could be easily overturned, but pressure dynamics could come into play as Rauner tries to make his veto stick. Under the legislation, starting in January 2018 people seeking a new or updated driver’s license — or other state services — would automatically be registered to vote or have their registration updated unless they opted out. Currently in Illinois, motorists seeking services at secretary of state driver’s facilities are asked if they want to register to vote or update their registration — an opt-in form of voter registration. Five other states have adopted what’s known as “automatic voter registration” policies in the past 18 months, supporters of the Illinois measure said.
… Rauner said new legislation could incorporate a recent change in the issuance of state driver’s licenses to comply with federal law. Those changes could make it easier to screen out noncitizens and others ineligible to vote before applications are sent to the elections agency. But one group that supported the measure, Common Cause Illinois, accused Rauner of wanting to delay the proposal beyond the fall 2018 election when the governor’s office is on the ballot.
Another organization of 50 supporting groups, Just Democracy Illinois, said in a statement that “the timeline for automatic voter registration should not be pushed back based on political calculations, and we will not accept stall tactics that delay implementation any further.”
“Illinois is moving away from making the franchise more accessible, and moving toward the sort of tactics that have suppressed the vote in other states across the nation. Now is not the time for Illinois to move backward on voting rights,” the group said.