- John McCain laments: Obama’s ‘self-pity … is really kind of sad’
- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
- Kim Jong-un builds bond with Putin: $250M Russia-backed addition to key port opens
- Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death
- Detroit porch shooting trial: Suspect says he didn’t know gun was loaded
- U.S. Navy admiral ‘receptive’ to giving Chinese counterpart a tour of carrier
- Islamic State orders female genital mutilation for Mosul girls, U.N. says
- U.N. school in Gaza caught in cross-fire; 15 killed
- Obama encourages ICE to stand down, say former border agents
Madigan’s voting rights amendment advances
Question of the Day
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - A proposal by Illinois’ powerful House Speaker to thwart future voter suppression efforts advanced in the Legislature on Tuesday, a move that contrasts starkly with recent electoral restrictions put in place by surrounding swing states where Republicans have legislative control.
The proposed amendment to the state constitution, which would appear on the November ballot if it receives a supermajority in both the House and Senate, would bar the Legislature from enacting new laws that would add new requirements in order to vote.
Rep. Michael Madigan, who doubles as Illinois’ Democratic Party Chairman, told committee members Tuesday that the amendment would ensure that no one is denied the right to vote based on their race, color, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation or income, and that it “sends a strong message that in Illinois we believe every eligible voter should be treated equally.”
Asked by a Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee about the prevalence of voter suppression efforts, the Chicago Democrat couldn’t cite a recent instance in which it happened in Illinois. Instead, Madigan referred to Republican-backed laws passed in other states that require voters to show voter identification at the polls or shorten early voting periods. He said such measures disproportionately affect minority and low income voters, which are key Democratic voting blocs.
“Our concern is that either today or sometime in the future there could be efforts like those in … other states right here in Illinois,” he said. “Our desire is to provide constitutional protection against action we’ve seen in other states.”
A total of nine states have passed measures placing restrictions on voters in the last year. This winter, Republicans-controlled legislatures in Wisconsin and Ohio adopted measures limiting when polls are open. In North Carolina last August, Republican Governor Pat McCrory signed into law one of the country’s most restrictive voter ID laws, which requires voters to present government-issued photo identification, eliminates same-day voter registration and shortens early voting.
Democrats and their supporters say in-person voter fraud is extremely rare and that the Republican-backed measures are really meant to disenfranchise groups that typically vote Democrat. Republicans, meanwhile, say the measures save money and help prevent voter fraud.
This is the second constitutional amendment proposed by Madigan in recent weeks. The other, which is also being considered by the full House, would tack a 3 percent surcharge onto income of $1 million, which Madigan says would raise $1 billion a year for elementary and secondary education.
The ballot questions come as the governor’s race is heating up between Republican candidate Bruce Rauner, a wealthy private-equity investor, and Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.
The amendment is HJRCA52.
Follow Kerry Lester on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kerrylester
TWT Video Picks
The subsidies are a hit with patients who don't exist
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- Whistleblowers flood VA with lawsuits despite apology
- Obama's empty tough-talk: Gun prosecutions plummet on his watch
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Obama says public not familiar enough with issues
- Conservative groups decry Democrats' 'war on women' tactic
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Astronaut shares 'saddest photo' from space: Bombs bursting over Israel, Gaza
- EDITORIAL: Obamacare enrollees faking for freebies
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq