Follow @csteditorialsWhen a plan to boost voter rolls and help clean up voter records by using automatic registration went before the Legislature in the spring, it passed with bipartisan support that included 15 Republican House members.
But in August, the bill suddenly became a political football when Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed it. Legislators should look at the big picture and override Rauner’s veto. Illinois needs the benefits the measure would bring.
Follow @csteditorialsThe bill has two valuable components. First, it would automatically register qualified citizens when they do such things as renew their driver’s licenses at Illinois secretary of state offices, although the citizens could opt out if they wish. Four other state agencies — the Department on Aging, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Healthcare and Family Services, and the Department of Employment Security — also would automatically register Illinoisans who come through their doors, although the process would be somewhat different.
Second, the bill would allow relevant agencies to share and update voter information, which would help local election boards keep voter rolls up to date. People who move out of a county often don’t tell the election board. It’s costly for election boards to track that information — and inefficient because another government agency already knows it.
Last week, the Illinois Senate overrode Rauner’s veto 38-18. The measure now goes to the House, where an override will be difficult if some lawmakers who voted for it change their mind. That’s apparently what happened in the Senate, where all Republicans who voted for the measure in the spring voted against the override, with the exception of Sen. Sam McCann of Jacksonville, whom Rauner unsuccessfully targeted in the primary election.
In the House, the political reality is that some of the 15 Republicans who voted for this bill probably will have to vote for the override if it is to succeed.
Republicans who change their vote might seek cover by saying they prefer a similar bill the GOP just introduced. But that’s a stripped-down version, and here’s an indication of how serious it is: It doesn’t set a deadline for agencies to comply with the law.
The Legislature already has passed a bill — with bipartisan support — that would save taxpayers money, improve the accuracy of voter registration rolls and boost voter participation, the lifeblood of democracy. The House should override the veto, and get the job done.