Automatic voter registration will need to go back to the drawing board after Gov. Bruce Rauner used his veto pen Friday.
The bill would have made Illinois one of the first states with automatic voter registration. It would have automatically registered someone that interacts with a number of state agencies like the Secretary of State's office. Once someone interacts with the agency, their information is automatically forwarded to the State Board of Elections.
Rauner's veto message said the bill directs a DMV to automatically register the person regardless of eligibility. Other concerns included having "the State Board of Elections to screen out individuals who are not eligible to vote, even though the State Board may not have access to that information," he wrote.
Rauner said he supports the bill's intent but needs to see protections against fraud before he would support it.
Illinois Public Research Group Director Abe Scarr says the bill he helped draft would have strengthened the security of Illinois' voter rolls. "(Gov. Rauner's office) doesn't understand the bill and what it does," he said. "Our bill would increase the integrity of our voter registration lists and make it more likely that the list is accurate and less likely that anyone would be able to manipulate the system."
In a statement, Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, who sponsored the bill, said he was disappointed about the governor's veto and would continue to push the measure. "The governor talks a lot about the need to streamline bureaucracy and cut government waste. Automatically registering voters would have allowed us to do exactly that," he said.
State Rep. David Harris, R-Arlington Heights, said these types of measures are typically imposed by majority parties to increase voter roles with supportive demographics.
"The idea behind easier voter registration makes sense up to a point," Harris said. "Often when these types of bills are called by the majority party at the last minute, the goal is to simply increase voters for the majority party. That should not be the goal of good legislation." Harris said that if a person is interested enough to vote in an election, they would take the time to register."
The bill originally passed with bipartisan support. Scarr didn't know if the sponsors would pursue an override this fall. California, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia have implemented automatic voter registration.