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Huge bipartisan majority for “voter suppression” proposal

Wednesday, Apr 9, 2014

* The House overwhelmingly passed House Speaker Michael Madigan’s proposal to prohibit voter discrimination

House Speaker Michael Madigan’s proposed constitutional amendment, which would be placed on the Nov. 4 ballot, says no person should be denied registration and voting rights based on race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, language or income.

The House sent the measure to the Senate on a 109-5 vote.

The measure seeks to counter a June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that dislodged part of the 1960s-era federal Voting Rights Act and prompted eight states to attempt to restrict access to polling booths, Madigan said.

”That has brought on legislation in other states that some of us would consider voter suppression,” Madigan said, pointing to how voter photo identification laws have disproportionately impacted minorities and the poor.

* This argument against the idea was totally bogus

State Rep. David Reis, R-Willow Hill, voiced concern that the push by Madigan was merely an attempt to short-circuit a move by GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner to get his signature-driven, term-limits constitutional amendment on the fall ballot.

Some commenters have also repeatedly brought up this issue even though I’ve pointed out to them that they’re wrong. Nowhere in the Illinois Constitution are there limits to the number of popular initiatives. Legislative initiatives are limited

The General Assembly shall not submit proposed amendments to more than three Articles of the Constitution at any one election.

But that has zero impact on how many popular initiatives can be submitted to voters.

* Anyway, back to the debate

“The intent of this constitutional amendment is to provide in Illinois, constitutionally, that voter-suppression laws would not be permitted,” said Madigan, D-Chicago. “Some might say, ‘Well, today in Illinois, you don’t need this. Voter suppression wouldn’t happen in Illinois.’

“We don’t know that,” Madigan continued. “We don’t know what the future holds. What we do know is we can constitutionalize the protection of the right to vote.” […]

Reis, who voted against Madigan’s plan, also said there is no evidence Illinois is currently engaging in any form of voter suppression.

“This is a constitutional amendment in search of a problem,” Reis said.

On that point, Rep. Reis is probably more accurate.

* AP

Jim Durkin told The Associated Press on Tuesday the state party has “had an identity crisis for many years now.” He said he believes it’s important for people to know Republicans believe Illinois residents who are citizens should not denied the right to vote.

“Republicans, we’re going to win with addition,” Durkin said. “We need to dispel some of the notions that have been hanging over the GOP for years, that we’re a party of white suburban men. For me this was an easy decision.”

Discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


30 Comments
  1. - Soccermom - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    Jim Durkin is doing a nice job.


  2. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 10:55 am:

    Love the way Leader Durkin goes about his business, and trying to bring My Party back, by addition.

    I am a fan “too” Leader Durkin.

    Keep building and rolling.


  3. - Nearly Normal - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 10:58 am:

    Rich, when I read your headline I thought it meant that the majority were for voter suppression! Caught me there before my second cup of coffee and a reading of the item.

    If the Rauner initiative for a term limits amendment has enough signatures, it does not have to go through the General Assembly.

    I was thinking maybe Madigan was trying to keep the Fair Tax Amendment from passing and going on the November ballot.


  4. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 11:00 am:

    Madigan was asked during debate whether this would play any role in crowding other issues off the ballot, but the reporter who tweeted that did not tweet the Speaker’s reply.

    I assume it was in line with what Rich explained a few days ago concerning the difference between popularly proposed amendments and GA proposed amendments.


  5. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 11:01 am:

    correction: initiatives


  6. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 11:02 am:

    –“Republicans, we’re going to win with addition,” Durkin said. “We need to dispel some of the notions that have been hanging over the GOP for years, that we’re a party of white suburban men. For me this was an easy decision.”–

    He gets it.


  7. - Barney - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 11:02 am:

    “Republicans, we’re going to win with addition,” Durkin said.

    says the guy who voted against the DREAM act and voted against marriage equality. ok…..


  8. - Wumpus - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 11:06 am:

    Is this really an issue?


  9. - jim - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    I don’t see this amendment as a big deal. People already have a constitutional right to vote.
    suspect something more is at play here, perhaps a Madigan effort to drive black turnout in Chicago by telling them that they can protect their threatened right to vote by passing this proposal and, at the same time, voting straight Democrat.
    If somebody has a substantive argument for this proposal, I’d like to hear it.
    It seems to me to be about as substantive as the proposed victims’ rights amendment that sailed through the House and will sail through the Senate and probably be overwhelmingly approved by the voters.


  10. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    It ain’t an issue. Not in Illinois. It does, however, give Durkin an opportunity to keep spreading his mantra, the mantra that should be on the lips of every republican, every conservative, who wants the party to regain credibility and power. And he made use of the opportunity. signed, A Fan


  11. - John A Logan - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    If it were not an election year, this bill would have never got a moments attention or discussion. It’s a fluff measure, designed to provide Pat Quinn the ability to sign it into law with plenty of press tagging along, singing the praises of a meaningless bill, and enabling the power structure that has led the state down a destructive path.


  12. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 11:16 am:

    ===designed to provide Pat Quinn the ability to sign it into law with plenty of press===

    Oh, c’mon.

    Yes, it’s political. No doubt.

    But read the freaking Constitution. Governors have no say in these legislative constitutional amendments. If they get three-fifths in both chambers the amendments are sent to the voters.

    Ignorance is not bliss. And reading is not hard.


  13. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 11:29 am:

    – It’s a fluff measure, designed to provide Pat Quinn the ability to sign it into law with plenty of press tagging along, singing the praises of a meaningless bill, and enabling the power structure that has led the state down a destructive path.–

    For crying out loud, read first, then comment.


  14. - Jeff Trigg - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 11:37 am:

    Lee v. Keith, 463 F. 3d 763 (7th Cir. 2006)
    “In combination, the ballot access requirements for independent legislative candidates in Illinois–the early filing deadline, the 10% signature requirement, and the additional statutory restriction that disqualifies anyone who signs an independent candidate’s nominating petition from voting in the primary–operate to unconstitutionally burden the freedom of political association guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Ballot access barriers this high–they are the most restrictive in the nation and have effectively eliminated independent legislative candidacies from the Illinois political scene for a quarter of a century–are not sustainable based on the state’s asserted interest in deterring party splintering, factionalism, and frivolous candidacies”.

    Voter discrimination and voter suppression? Michael Madigan had no problem illegally and unconstitutionally keeping independent candidates off the ballot for 25 years. As far as elections go, the only thing Michael Madigan believes in is that Democrat voters should be able to vote for Democrats.

    Besides, Madigan is wrong, voter suppression and discrimination IS happening in Illinois right now and has been for decades under his watch. 60% of GA races routinely go unopposed while independents and others face some of the harshest ballot access hurdles in the democratic world. Independents and others who don’t want to vote for Democrats or Republicans are being discriminated against and are having their votes suppressed, as the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals pointed out.

    The amendment isn’t a bad idea. No one, especially the media, should believe Madigan’s reasoning for this for one second, however, based on Madigan’s past record of voter suppression and discrimination against independents. Can’t anyone in the media ask Madigan if he really is doing this for the integrity of our elections, then why isn’t he doing anything about the 60% unopposed races and the discriminatory ballot access hurdles designed to keep independents and others off our ballots?

    It’d also be nice if the GOP in IL weren’t just like Madigan on this issue or didn’t have their heads up their a4$e$ regarding Article III, Section 3 of our state Constitution.


  15. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 12:08 pm:

    Durkin obviously does “get it”, even if this is a solution in search of a problem.

    To @Jeff Trigg’s point: This bill definitely falls short if we are talking about increasing access and participation. It is a defensive bill driven by election day politics and a moot point in Illinois rather than an offensive bill driven by a desire to make it easier to vote or get on the ballot.

    Even so, good stuff by Madigan, Durkin and company.


  16. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    Naturally the GOP favor the bill. Anyone who knows the history of voter suppression recognizes that it wasn’t the GOP who passed and enforced the Jim Crow Laws, poll taxes and black voter suppression acts. We have nearly a century between the elections of the last African American US Senator, Republican Bruce in 1881 and the first African American US Senator, Republican Brooke in 1967.

    Since the removal of these voter suppression laws across the Southern States, voters began electing the GOP.

    So removing voter suppression laws is always a win for the GOP.


  17. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    –Since the removal of these voter suppression laws across the Southern States, voters began electing the GOP.

    So removing voter suppression laws is always a win for the GOP.–

    That’s quite a history lesson there, VMan.

    You can’t possibly believe any of that nonsense.

    It’s very true that Jim Crow was enforced by the old southern Democratic Party. When LBJ and northern Republicans like Ev Dirksen dragged them kicking and screaming into the light with civil rights legislation they abandoned the Democratic Party in droves and became…….. Republicans.

    Do you really think Strom Thurmond was singing “We Shall Overcome” when he flipped?

    Do you really think southern Republicans today are being elected on the strength of black votes?

    Are you on drugs?


  18. - Jorge - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 1:19 pm:

    “Since the removal of these voter suppression laws across the Southern States, voters began electing the GOP.”

    Then why is the GOP in some states quietly trying to bring back voter suppression laws?


  19. - John A Logan - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 1:21 pm:

    LOL. Forgive my overt offense to the elite for missing a point of process. So it’s sent to the voters….and not the Governors desk. I stand corrected. Ultimately it is a political stunt. That is all it is. So forgive me if I am not impressed by your hyperventilating over minutia.


  20. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 1:26 pm:

    ===So forgive me if I am not impressed by your hyperventilating over minutia. ===

    You based an entire comment on complete ignorance of your own state’s constitution - and on a subject that we’ve been discussing here for months.


  21. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 1:28 pm:

    You don’t see the abandonment of the Democrats in the South after the Civil Rights Acts - that is a nice myth. The South remained a Democratic stronghold for another generation of voters. It is the population growth of migrating northerners into the South that opens the door to the GOP for the first time.

    The idea that the Southern bigots became Republicans is a nice farce that is not backed up by facts. An easy glance at the federal and state elections across the Southern States easily reveals this.

    Voter suppression was a big problem when it was done successfully from 1876 to 1964 across the Southern US states. Nothing being suggested today remotely comes close.


  22. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    VMan, respectfully, your statements are insane.


  23. - CollegeStudent - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 2:03 pm:

    ===Naturally the GOP favor the bill. Anyone who knows the history of voter suppression recognizes that it wasn’t the GOP who passed and enforced the Jim Crow Laws, poll taxes and black voter suppression acts. We have nearly a century between the elections of the last African American US Senator, Republican Bruce in 1881 and the first African American US Senator, Republican Brooke in 1967.

    Since the removal of these voter suppression laws across the Southern States, voters began electing the GOP.

    So removing voter suppression laws is always a win for the GOP. ===

    “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done,”

    -Mike Turzai, Pennsylvania House Majority Leader (Republican), 2012

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/muckraker/pennsylvania-gop-leader-voter-id-will-help-romney-win-state


  24. - Conservative Republican - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 2:11 pm:

    So… given Madigan’s comments, does a constitutional amendment prohibiting discrimination against “voting rights” based on race, gender, etc. etc. bar the enactment of a voter ID law requiring a voter to present a photo ID at the polling place? Is that the intent of this amendment?

    Will simple poll watching now become “voter suppression”? Frankly, that is the opinion of many Democratic judges of election and precinct captains, who bleat “voter suppression” to poll watchers who ask questions at the polling place deemed legal for decades.


  25. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 2:15 pm:

    == Do you really think Strom Thurmond was singing “We Shall Overcome” when he flipped? ==

    Was Robert Byrd when he stayed? How about Fritz Hollings?

    Was Tim Scott when he was serving as the only black Senator in America for a while last year? The Republican who now happens to be 1 of only 3 black Senators, none of whom are female?

    Let’s face it: neither party, despite the rhetoric on both sides, has done nearly enough to ensure minority representation.

    And neither party can truly claim the moral high ground, no matter how hard one may try and claim it to be so. There were and still are plenty of examples to go around on both sides today, regardless of what some may say.


  26. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 2:20 pm:

    ==bar the enactment of a voter ID law ==

    I think the Courts have been ruling more often than not against voter ID laws, as they should.


  27. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 2:26 pm:

    I am still unaware of anyone being denied a ballot on the basis of sexual orientation. The inclusion of that language seems to be a gimmick meant to drive voter turnout in November.

    Deterring vote fraud is not voter suppression, but since Illinois is not cracking down on such activities or requiring voters to provide photo identification to request ballots, the entire amendment seems like overkill.

    Is the Illinois system of comparing handwriting against precinct registration records a form of suppression?


  28. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 2:55 pm:

    == enactment of a voter ID law ==

    The 24th Amendment, which abolished poll taxes, is viewed by many as compelling any state implementing voter ID laws to also offer a free voter ID. That is why many states requiring a photo ID, such as Georgia, and even those requiring a non-photo ID, such as Rhode Island, offer to provide such an ID free of charge.

    That is also why you may notice the resolution mentions, “No person shall be denied the right to register to vote or to cast a ballot in an election based on… income.”

    In simple terms, any voter ID law would almost certainly provide for a free ID. That applies yesterday, today, and tomorrow.


  29. - follies - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 4:36 pm:

    It’s actually not a fluff amendment. If a future general assembly tries to pass a law requiring voters to present identification at the polls, this will give them a cause of action to challenge the law, and quite possibly the ammunition to win. it might seem like a do nothing amendment, but it could come in handy in the future.


  30. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Apr 9, 14 @ 9:54 pm:

    What makes this amendment ridiculous is that the State is solidly blue for the foreseeable future. This is especially true of the General Assembly. The Democrats prepared the new map and the districts are pretty much fixed until 2022. So this begs the question as to what possible threat exists that the a reactionary new legislative majority is going to suddenly emerge and enact restrictive new voting laws within the next decade.

    If somehow, a future legislature enacted a law requiring photo identification of voters (which is required now for early voting), this amendment would not stop that, provided free i.d. cards were an option.


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