Illinois Right to Vote Amendment (2014)

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Right to Vote Amendment
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Illinois Constitution
Referred by:Illinois General Assembly
Topic:Suffrage on the ballot
Status:Approved Approveda
2014 measures
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November 4
Right to Vote Amendment Approveda
Crime Victims' Bill of Rights Amendment Approveda
Minimum Wage Increase Question Approveda
Birth Control Coverage Question Approveda
Millionaire Tax Increase Question Approveda
EndorsementsFull text
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Local measures

The Illinois Right to Vote Amendment was on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Illinois as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure was designed to provide that no person shall be denied the right to register to vote or cast a ballot in an election based on race, color, ethnicity, language, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation or income.[1]

Proponents and opponents suggested that the amendment was meant, in part, to discourage a voter identification card law.[2]

In order to be ratified, this measure had to be approved by either three-fifths of those voting on the question or by a majority of people voting in the election.[3]

Election results

Below are the official, certified election results:

Illinois Right to Vote Amendment
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 2,350,114 64.08%
No960,18126.16%

Due to Illinois' approval requirements, the amount of total votes in the overall election was used to calculate the percent of "yes" and "no" votes, since this number was less than the percentage of people who voted on this question. This may result in the percents for the "yes" and "no" votes adding up to less than 100 percent.
Election results via: Illinois State Board of Elections

Background

As this measure attempted to deter a voter identification card law, it is worthwhile to consider the identity requirements for voting in Illinois as of 2014. Illinois election laws require two forms of identification to register to vote in person, one of which must include the current residence address of the voter. Registration by mail only requires the submission of a driver's license or state identification card number.[4] The state does not currently have any documentation requirements when casting votes.[5]

Thirty-one states had voter identification laws in force as of May 8, 2014. While widely practiced, such laws have been contested across the country. In 2014, both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin had voter identification laws overturned by the courts, while the Arkansas Supreme Court stayed a ruling that overturned that state's law. The remaining states had other methods for verifying voters, such as signing affidavits or requiring voters to provide biographical information.[5][6]

Text of the measure

Ballot title

The ballot language appeared as follows:[7]

The proposed amendment adds a new section to the Suffrage and Elections Article of the Illinois Constitution. The proposed amendment would prohibit any law that disproportionately affects the rights of eligible Illinois citizens to register to vote or cast a ballot based on the voter’s race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or income. You are asked to decide whether the proposed amendment should become part of the Illinois Constitution.

YES

NO [8]

Constitutional changes

The amendment added a Section 8 to Article III of the Constitution of Illinois:[1]

SECTION 8. VOTER DISCRIMINATION

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.

Support

House Speaker Michael J. Madigan (D-22), who was the amendment's primary sponsor, said, "The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that all citizens have an opportunity to register and vote and to prevent the passage of inappropriate voter-suppression laws and discriminatory voting procedures."[9]

Supporters

Officials

The following elected officials sponsored the amendment in the legislature:[10]

Other elected officials who supported the amendment included:

Arguments

  • House Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-82) called on Republicans to support the amendment. He said, "[The state party] had an identity crisis for many years now. Republicans, we're going to win with addition. 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."[11]
  • Steve Brown, Sen. Madian's press secretary, said the measure was a response to the growing voter restriction across the country. He stated his opinion that such restrictions are actually voter suppression, saying, "When that right to vote is abridged by a whole bunch of different requirements, or cutting back on early-voting periods, or having all kinds of complicated rules about registration, or identification cards, [then] you know that’s just an effort to suppress the vote.”[12]
  • Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-13), who sponsored the measure in the general assembly, said, "It is definitely, definitely intended to discourage voter ID laws. If you cast a vote for this, you are casting a vote against voter ID laws."[13]

Opposition

Opponents

Officials

The following elected officials voted against the amendment in the legislature:[14]

Arguments

Opponents of the measure argued that federal voting protections are sufficient to protect the right to vote and that the amendment was not needed.[3]

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of Illinois ballot measures, 2014

Opposition

  • The Belleville News-Democrat said,
The amendment on voting rights would accomplish nothing except create issues where now there are none. [...] The voting rights amendment states that no one would be denied the right to vote or register to vote based on their "race, color, ethnicity, status as a language minority, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation or income." Sounds good, right? But the thing is, no one is denied those rights now in Illinois. Federal voting protections cover most of this already. If the amendment is added to the state constitution, we can imagine lawyers having a field day arguing that some election requirement or other has an unequal effect on the poor or another group. This falls under the category of if it isn't broken, don't fix it.[8]

Belleville News-Democrat, [15]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the Illinois Constitution

The Illinois General Assembly was required to pass the amendment by a 60 percent majority vote in both chambers in order to place the amendment on the ballot. HJRCA 52 was approved by the Illinois House of Representatives on April 8, 2014. The amendment was approved by the Illinois Senate on April 10, 2014.[14]

House vote

House Vote on April 8, 2014:

Illinois HJRCA 52 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 109 95.61%
No54.39%

Senate vote

Senate vote on April 10, 2014:

Illinois HJRCA 52 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 52 100.00%
No00.00%

See also

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Suggest a link

External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Illinois General Assembly, "Constitutional Amendment 52," accessed April 11, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Crain's Chicago Business, "Right-to-vote amendment to go on Illinois ballot," April 10, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 Chicago Tribune, "Democrats pack Illinois ballot with referendum questions," October 13, 2014
  4. Illinois State Board of Elections, "Registering to Vote in Illinois," accessed June 12, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 National Conference of State Legislatures, "VOTER IDENTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS," accessed June 12, 2014
  6. National Conference of State Legislatures, "VOTER VERIFICATION WITHOUT ID DOCUMENTS," May 8, 2014
  7. Illinois State Board of Elections, "Questions of Public Policy," accessed September 15, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  9. The State Journal-Register, "Voter rights amendment passes Illinois House," April 8, 2014
  10. Illinois Legislature, "Bill Status of HJRCA0052," accessed April 11, 2014
  11. Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Durkin: Voter rights effort helps rebuild GOP," April 8, 2014
  12. The Daily Illini, "Two proposed constitutional amendments to appear on Nov. 4 ballot," April 23, 2014
  13. Crain's Chicago Business, "Right-to-vote amendment to go on Illinois ballot," April 10, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 Illinois General Assembly, "Voting History For HJRCA0052," accessed April 11, 2014
  15. Belleville News-Democrat, "On changing Illinois' Constitution," October 16, 2014