WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Protecting Voting Rights in Illinois

Apr 1, 2014

Voting rights groups are applauding a measure in the Illinois legislature that would add special protections for voters.

The bill was approved by an Illinois House committee Tuesday.  It seeks to ensure that nobody is barred from voting based on income, color, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or language.

It's sponsored by House Speaker Michael Madigan, who is also head of the Democratic Party of Illinois.

“Neither the General Assembly nor local election officials would be permitted to impose restrictions that would impose discriminatory burdens on an eligible citizen's right to register or to vote,” said Madigan. 

Madigan gave no examples of voter suppression in Illinois but he said it has happened elsewhere.  He pointed to some states where people with Latino surnames were purged from voter rolls and other states that passed voter identification laws that disproportionally affect minorities and the poor.

Supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature would need to pass the proposal to get it on the November ballot as a state constitutional amendment.