Government
3:20 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

IL looks to stop voter suppression

As other states enact stricter voting restrictions, Illinois lawmakers are looking to protect against suppression. A House committee Tuesday advanced the constitutional change.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was hard pressed when asked to give an example of  a case in Illinois when an eligible voter was denied access to register or to take a ballot:

"I'm not in the position to cite examples ..."

But Madigan says it has happened in states that have attempted to enact voter ID laws that discriminate against minorities, or that cut early voting periods short. He proposes Illinois amend its constitution to protect against those actions.

"Simply put adoption of the amendment sends a strong message that in Illinois we believe every eligible voter should be treated equally and shall have the ability to vote for the candidates of their choice."

The measure would grant special protections based on race, color, ethnicity, origin, sex, sexual orientation and income. If approved by the General Assembly, it will go on the ballot for the November election.

That could help drive up voter turnout, especially of groups that have historically favored Democrats; Madigan is also head of the state Democratic party.