Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Big Win For Automatic Voter Registration In Illinois-- Is Maine Next?


The Illinois legislature was working on Monday-- and in a very bipartisan way. The House has 67 Democrats and 51 Republicans but the vote on Robyn Gabel's Automatic Voter Registration bill was 115-0. The Senate had already passed i-- also unanimously. (It had passed last year as well but was vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner (which is exactly what the grotesque Jersey slob did when the legislature in his stated passed it last year), claiming their could be fraud. His concerns were addressed in the current wording of the bill. The new law will add over a million new voters to the rolls in Illinois.
SB1933 reforms current registration laws so that whenever an eligible Illinois resident applies for, updates or renews a driver’s license or state ID, he or she will be automatically registered to vote or have their registration updated, unless they opt out. It also creates a similar program for other state agencies, such as the Department of Human Services and Department of Natural Resources.

...“Automatic voter registration, as passed this year, will allow technology to help make our elections more secure, more efficient, and more open to all citizens of Illinois,” said Rep. Fortner [R]. “This bill will create a seamless process for citizens to register and keep their registration up-to-date as they move. At the same time, it respects the privacy of those in the system and those who choose not to participate.”

Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) and Rep. Robyn Gabel (D-Evanston) first introduced the proposal in 2015, which passed in both the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support before Governor Rauner issued a veto.

 “I am proud that my colleagues in the House voted to bring automatic voter registration to Illinois, making voter registration more modern, efficient and accessible to all eligible voters,” said Rep. Gabel. “This legislation is a model of bipartisan cooperation and I urge Governor Rauner to sign it into law.”

“We retooled parts of this plan based on suggestions from both sides of the aisle. There’s no plausible reason Gov. Rauner shouldn’t sign it the moment it lands on his desk,” Sen. Manar said. “If he is serious about modernizing Illinois government and saving money for taxpayers, then automatic voter registration is an excellent way to do both.”
Oregon was the first state to pass Automatic Voter Registration (2015) and the increase in voter registration has been huge. California followed several months later and in 2016 West Virginia, Vermont, Connecticut, Georgia, DC and Alaska passed it as well, Alaska in a referendum. This year Colorado approved it, as did Nevada-- although, again, a Republican governor (Brian Sandoval) vetoed it.

Almost every state in the Union has an Automatic Voter Registration bill pending this year except for 11 states controlled by the Republican Party: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, both Dakotas, Wisconsin, Kansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, North Carolina and New Hampshire. Bob Brady (D-PA) introduced federal legislation that would automatically register ever eligible American citizen to vote in federal elections but no Republicans have signed on as co-sponsors, dooming it until 2018 when Democrats are likely to win back control of the House.

Meanwhile, the great state of Maine may be next to pass this. It won in the House last Thursday 74-68, all the Democrats and independents plus one Republican in favor and the rest of the Republicans opposed. Shenna Bellows is the sponsor in the state Senate which is scheduled to vote today. She needs to get one Republican to vote with the Democrats to pass it. It's a bill, though, that Governor LePage, who opposes expanding the franchise, is pretty certain to veto. How do I know? Well, in the early 1970s Maine passed same day voter registration and the second LePage and the Republicans took control of the state government they repealed it. We asked our old friend Shenna, who was the chair of the successful drive to overturn LePage's and the GOP's repeal of same day registration, how she plans to persuade a Republican to help pass automatic voter registration today.

"Every person who supports democracy in its truest form," she told us last night, "understands that voting is foundational to democracy. In an era of voter suppression and the rise of grave threats to our democracy, it becomes all the more important that we champion measures that increase voter participation and empowerment. That’s the goal of LD1232, Maine’s automatic voter registration bill, which passed the Democratically controlled Maine House of Representatives last week and is pending for a vote in the Senate. One would think it would be unanimous. Constitutional rights shouldn’t be a partisan issue. One would hope that a Governor looking to his legacy would sign it. Alas, we’ve been down this road before. Not only has Republican Governor Paul LePage vetoed numerous measures that would have benefitted the people of Maine, he’s actively campaigned against voting rights. Indeed, he was a leader in a 2011 voter suppression effort when Republicans controlled the legislature and repealed Maine’s election day registration law, a law that had been on the books for almost forty years. The people rose up in 2011. We passed a so-called “people’s veto” to restore same day voter registration via ballot measure. Governor LePage and his allies may block automatic voter registration by veto, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have options if he does. We have principle and politics on our side."


An amendment has made the bill into a study. Shenna just got back to us with the wording: "This amendment replaces the bill with a resolve directing the Secretary of State to study the implementation of automatic voter registration. The Secretary of State is required to submit a report to the Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs by March 1, 2018." Very disappointing for everyone who was inspired by the unanimous vote of approval in Illinois yesterday.

More Update: Worse yet, it failed.The Dems were not united. Senate Democrats Bill Diamond and Dawn Hill voted against it. And the Republicans were united against it. It failed 20 to 15 in a Senate that has 18 Republicans and 17 Democrats. Because the motion was "ought not to pass" the vote itself was on the merits of the actual underlying bill, not the study. Terrible news.

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At 3:43 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

In some countries, such a Australia, citizens are required to voted every so often or they face penalties. That would be a nice move here, too - it would provide more incentive for everyone to actually vote.

I think that Trump would have gone down big time in the election if a much higher proportion of the population had voted. Many people who did not vote would have likely voted democratic.

Of course Republicans would prefer having fewer people vote. They really could not care less about democracy working in the best interests of the country and the people. They are shameful. The mask has been ripped off. They suck. They are enablers of the worst elements in our government.


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