Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed an automatic voter registration bill Friday, noting that the bill needs changes to comply with federal law and prevent against voter fraud.
Under the legislation, people could automatically register to vote by seeking out state services, like getting a new or updated driver’s license. The measure was slated to go into effect in January of 2018.
“I strongly support efforts to encourage greater voter participation in our democracy and share the goals of this legislation,” Rauner said in a statement. “Unfortunately, as currently drafted, the bill would inadvertently open the door to voter fraud and run afoul of federal election law."
"We will continue working with the legislature and key stakeholders on language that meets our shared goals while complying with federal law and preventing voter fraud.”
The bill was sent to Rauner in June after passing both Houses of the General Assembly before the end of the spring legislative session. The bill garnered strong, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.
In his veto message to fellow lawmakers, the governor recognized the bill’s “worthy but ambitious goal,” but voiced serious concern about implementation. Rauner noted that the Illinois State Board of Elections, Secretary of State and others have raised similar concerns.
Rauner claimed there were “unadressed problems” with the bill, for which there are “workable solutions.” He said more needs to be done to protect against voter fraud and comply with federal law, which requires applicants to sign an application or attest to “meeting the qualifications to vote.”
“The consequences could be injurious to our election system,” Rauner wrote.
In his veto message, Rauner also noted that the Illinois State Board of Elections must be given "adequate time and resources to implement the bill’s provisions.” The governor claimed no funding has been provided to the already inundated ISBE to carry out the bill’s work.
Meanwhile, Sen. Kimberly Lightford, one of the bill’s co-sponsors expressed concern for minority voters.
“Minority groups throughout our history have fought for the right to vote, and we should be continuing that legacy of promoting participation in our democracy,” Lightford said in a statement. “I will remain in support of this measure and hope to see it come to fruition in the near future.”
Sen. Don Harmon, who also co-sponsored the bill, voiced disappointment in Rauner’s decision.
“Automatic registration is a natural and logical extension of our already successful efforts to modernize and simplify the voting process in Illinois,” Sen. Don Harmon, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement. “I am disappointed in the governor’s veto, and I will continue to be a champion for commonsense measures like automatic voter registration.”
Cook County Clerk David Orr also voiced disappointment, claiming Rauner’s veto “condemned 700,000 hard working Illinoisans to another unnecessary interaction with government.”
“Automatic voter registration is a proven good government measure that would have significantly helped modernize and streamline the state’s voter registration rolls, while taking the registration burden off the backs of Illinois voters,” Orr said in a statement.
Additionally, iVote, a national organization dedicated to expanding access to voting, slammed Rauner Friday for taking "a step back from making voting more modern, secure, and cost-efficient in the state of Illinois."
"We are also disappointed that he passed on this opportunity to prove things can still get done in a bipartisan way in Springfield," a release from the group said.