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Illinois Will Vote on Constitutional Amendment to Expand Voting Rights

Illinois Will Vote on Constitutional Amendment to Expand Voting Rights

After Republican efforts to suppress the votes of those who would probably not vote for them ramped up in 2011, there was a great deal of pushback from the public. Court challenges had mixed results, with most courts saying that things like requiring voter ID were not unconstitutional (even if they aren’t “fair”), allowing many such laws to stand. When the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by ruling the preclearance formula unconstitutional, voter suppression efforts started going even further, forcing the justice department to seek other ways to protect voting rights.

Now the efforts to combat voter suppression are being taken out of the courts and into the legislature – and the streets.

Soon after the SCOTUS ruling, many legislators started introducing bills that expanded voter access. By the end of the year, 46 states had introduced laws that made it easier to vote, such as expanding polling locations and hours. The trend is continuing this year. Since the first of the year, 190 bills have been introduced in 31 states.

The state of Illinois has taken it a step further.

Earlier this month, the Illinois legislature passed a constitutional amendment that would ban voter suppression in Illinois. Introduced by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, the amendment would make any form of voter suppression illegal. The amendment overwhelmingly passed both houses of the legislature and will go to the voters in November.

The amendment simply states:  “No person shall be denied the right to register to vote or to cast a ballot in an election based on race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or income.”

This has come as part of a nationwide effort to combat suppression efforts. At the national level, the Voting Rights Act Amendment of 2014 was introduced in Congress and seeks to address the issues the Supreme Court found unconstitutional with Section 4 of the VRA. Section 4 had been used to determine which states would require preclearance for any changes in their voting laws.

The new amendment would expand the types of violations that would be subject to the preclearance requirement, as well as apply the new standards to all states and jurisdictions that have had voting rights violations within a certain amount of time. It currently has 22 sponsors representing both parties.

In February, the Democratic Party announced the launch of a permanent voter rights expansion program that would “establish permanent procedures and staff in each state to help register and educate voters, and work with local officials to expand access to the polls in the November elections and beyond.”  The plan includes a nationwide network of voter advocates and legal help to protect voters. The effort was announced with the help of former President Bill Clinton.

Recently, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe made it easier for former felons convicted of serious drug charges to regain their voting rights. In all, 13 bills have been signed into law expanding voter access thus far this year. With the midterm elections less than six months away, efforts are being made to reverse the historically low voter turnout for non-presidential year elections. The most important step is that people that are eligible to vote are allowed to do so.

When launching the DNC voter expansion program, President Bill Clinton said, “It’s not enough anymore just to be against these new voting restrictions. To form that more perfect union, we have to expand rights, not take them away.”

One would think that is self-evident.

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91 comments

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4:27PM PDT on Jul 27, 2014

If they haven't paid taxes, they shouldn't vote.

5:34PM PDT on Apr 30, 2014

How is it that one who professes to be a scientist all the time can’t see that claiming

a) That the majority of voters are well versed in science

And then changes that claim to be

b) That the majority of TeaParty voters are well versed in science

Isn’t a demonstration of moving the goal posts?
Remember, this is the guy who has adopted a cartoon character wearing a lab coat, a mortar board hat, with goggles waving around a beaker filled with green liquid to try to give the impression that he is a (one must worship at the feet of him for being) a scientist.

A scientist would be able to see that changing the group he is measuring to a smaller group so as to try to support his claim, when the first one was roundly disputed and disproved is changing the goal posts.

In the credibility box it is easy to fill it with a very large X under the selection for the word NO.

2:35PM PDT on Apr 30, 2014

Only an idiot like Dan would be against making it easier to vote. And why the sudden hostility to state rights??

12:47AM PDT on Apr 30, 2014

Good luck, Illinois!

3:50PM PDT on Apr 29, 2014

While the Illinois legislation is nice, are not those voting rights already protected by the federal government, which supercedes the States?

Good luck reversing low turnout in the off year. Unless there is a big gubernatorial election, a hit Senate race, or pressing ballot proposal, voter apathy runs high, when the top of the ticket is vacant. Might as well try to increase voters in primaries. How can you force people to care?

6:08AM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

It's good when constitutional rights of people are respected. May the voters of US be happy and free.

3:06AM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

Thanks for sharing!

2:40AM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

ty

10:57PM PDT on Apr 27, 2014

Well good. SOMETHING has to be done to stop the GOP from stealing elections. If not, the Republican plan to establish a one-party fascist dictatorship in the US ruled by corporations and the rich elite will surely come to pass. We are already far down the road to oligarchy as it is. As to whether or not it is too late depends on how serious and fervent the pushback against GOP election theft is going to be. And it had better be soon.

8:02PM PDT on Apr 27, 2014

Kudos to Illinois!

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