Earlier today, Governor Bruce Rauner used an amendatory veto on House Bill 4469, a measure that passed both legislative chambers with bi-partisan support. The bill would have allowed an opportunity for eligible persons detained pre-trial to vote, and provide those leaving Illinois jails and prisons with information on voting rights for individuals living with records, including the basic knowledge that in Illinois, eligible citizens have their voting rights restored upon release. Unfortunately, the Governor eliminated the provision that would have provided basic information to those leaving jails and the Department of Corrections.
The following can be attributed to Khadine Bennett, Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs Director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois:
The Governor’s action today stands in stark contrast to our State’s commitment to protecting voting rights. It is also a sharp departure from his SB 2273 (Crosscheck) veto message, where he stated that his “administration has demonstrated a commitment to increasing access to the vote.” Proclamations like these are hollow, especially where the provision of the bill that he vetoed would have provided crucial information to men and women leaving Illinois jails and prison – information that would make clear that individuals with records, including those leaving prisons and jails, have a right to vote in Illinois post release.
It is especially disappointing that a Governor, who has publically stated that individuals who have served time in jails and prisons deserve an opportunity for redemption, rehabilitation and a second chance to be productive citizens, would use his veto to take away an opportunity for individuals leaving prisons and jails to know about their voting rights. Especially when this bill, and the provision he vetoed, was the result of negotiations with many entities, including IDOC and the Illinois Sheriffs Association.
In the months that we have spent working on this bill, we have heard from many citizens living with records throughout the state who didn’t realize that they still had a right to vote post release. They were very hopeful that the Governor would sign HB 4469, as were the many organizations, churches, community groups, and individuals who worked on this bill.
The legislature should override this veto and enact House Bill 4469 in its original form.