Jim Anderson Reporting. Illinois Radio Network
Illinois voters are weighing in on a constitutional amendment to protect voting access.
This measure would forbid any new election law or procedure that impairs someone’s right to vote based on their race, color, ethnicity, language, national origin, sex, religion, sexual orientation or income.
The idea, says Blake Sercye, chairman of the Committee to Protect Illinois Voting Rights, is to ban laws that other states are enacting that make it harder for some people to vote.
“In Shelby County vs. Holder, the Supreme Court invalidated critical provisions of the Voting Rights Act. In the wake of that, we saw state legislatures and courts start to pass laws that diminish voting rights. We don’t want that to happen here in Illinois,” he said at a news conference Sunday in Chicago.
In particular, states under Republican control have enacted laws requiring voters to show a government-issued photo ID in order to vote, ostensibly to prevent voter impersonation.
However, this disenfranchises those who don’t hold acceptable forms of identification, who tend to be poor, minorities, the elderly and college students. Taken as a group, those voters are more likely to vote for Democrats than Republicans, and in the absence of more than a handful of cases of actual voter impersonation, these efforts are seen by critics as attempts to gain partisan advantage. In Illinois, the amendment has bipartisan support.
The amendment would not change the requirement that a voter must be a U.S. citizen, over age 18 and a resident of Illinois.
In order to be enacted, the amendment would have to get “yes” votes from 60 percent of the people who vote on the question, or a majority of those who vote in the election.