Hello, my name is Kathleen Yang-Clayton of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, and today, on behalf of Just Democracy Illinois, we express our deep disappointment with Governor Bruce Rauner’s veto of Automatic Voter Registration.
In our push for Automatic Voter Registration, over 50 organizations statewide signed on to endorse. Our diverse coalition, made up of civil rights, community organizing, and good government organizations, worked with policymakers and legislators from both sides of the aisle for 7 months to get this bill passed. At any time, the Governor could have raised his concerns with SB 250, but instead he waited until the 11th hour and vetoed a good bill.
Advancing Justice | Chicago is also a member of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Asian Americans and immigrants across Illinois are involved in this campaign because we know that the right to vote in this country was a hard fought battle from its beginning. Automatic Voter Registration increases access to the ballot box, which is a crucial step to a more engaged electorate. Combined with the recent lawsuit attempting to stop Election Day Registration, this veto signifies a step backwards for voting rights in Illinois.
Contrary to Governor Rauner’s inaccurate and unhelpful remarks that our bill would violate federal law and lead to widespread fraud, Automatic Voter Registration will actually increase election security by taking our already existing electronic voter databases and making it easier to stop voter fraud before it happens. Governor Rauner brought up three specific instances of “voter fraud” in his veto message, all of which occurred over 10 years ago, two of which would have been prevented had automatic voter registration been in place.
The Governor’s veto message conveys a false sincerity. He might say that he wants to modernize the voter registration system, but this veto says otherwise. He says he wants to prevent fraud, but instead Governor Rauner demonizes immigrants, ignoring the fact that Automatic Voter Registration would prevent cases such as the ones he cites in his own veto. Through it all, Governor Rauner’s actions dismiss the months of work by our coalition and the bi-partisan group of legislators who support of modernizing voter registration in Illinois.
In the months ahead we will be rallying our communities and working together with county Clerks such as David Orr, and members of the legislature, some of whom will be speaking after me, to overturn this veto and re-establish Illinois as a national leader in voting rights. Thank you.
Just Democracy Illinois is a broad-based and diverse coalition that works to protect and promote the value of a single vote, no matter the geographic, racial, ethnic or party affiliation of the voter. Our current priority is promoting Automatic Voter Registration. Steering Committee members include Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, Action Now Institute, Chicago Votes, Common Cause Illinois, Illinois PIRG, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and CHANGE Illinois.