Illinois Governor Rauner Vetoes Mandatory Voter Registration Bill

Last week, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that would establish mandatory, or automatic, voter registration in Illinois:  

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. . . . 

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.

The bill was hastily passed at the end of session, and, in addition to being an unnecessary expense to a financially distressed state, the governor found that it would open the door to fraud and violate the NVRA:

"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," he said. 

In addition, Rauner said the measure does not follow federal law, which requires a voting applicant to "attest to meeting the qualifications to vote" or to sign an application. He said the measure also relies on the Illinois State Board of Elections to then screen out individuals who are not eligible to vote, even though it may not have access to needed information.

We thank Gov. Rauner for wisely recognizing that mandatory voter registration threatens election integrity and the accuracy of voter registration rolls and does not accomplish the goal of increased voter engagement and turnout.