Voters in Illinois may be required to show photo identification at the polls on election day, if current legislation is passed.
SB2496 was introduced by Illinois State Senator Kyle McCarter in October of 2011 and is co-sponsored by 15 other republican senators. The bill would amend election law to require government issued photo ID be shown to election officials at the polls before voting. Currently, photo identification is only required when voting early.
“To register in Illinois currently, you need 2 forms of ID,” said John J. Acardo, DeKalb County Clerk. “Not necessarily photo ID, but documents to confirm your current address.”
The Illinois state board of elections is responsible for supervising the registration of voters and the administration of elections throughout the state. They also investigate any claims of irregularity or fraud in elections. According to their website, these claims are most often resolved by “clarification of the law”. There are no official statistics available on their site regarding voter fraud in Illinois.
“There are anecdotal stories where people have gone back to look and they’ve reviewed returns where they’ve had precincts with over 100 percent voter turnout or where they cross check people who vote that have moved out of state or have died, and they showed up as having voted or mailed in,” Illinois State Senator Dave Syverson said. “Trying to get any official review of that would require the authority of the same party that doesn’t want to have the ID’s.”
Earlier this month the governor of Pennsylvania signed Voter ID legislation, but in other states, like Wisconsin and Texas, the laws have been blocked by judges or declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Of the 16 state senators that initially co-sponsored the Illinois bill, one removed his sponsorship the next day - William R. Haine of the 56th district was unavailable for comment.
“Requiring a photo ID doesn’t necessarily have the effect of reducing voter fraud,” said Mark Pietrowski, Jr., advisor for the NIU Democrats. “It’s main purpose is to suppress votes they feel will demographically be more for democrats than republicans. If people really want to get after voter fraud, we’ve got to tackle electronic voting systems that leave no paper trail.”
Pietrowski said that Republicans are pushing hard for these changes to be implemented before the 2012 elections.
“People died so we could have the right to vote and the integrity of the ballot should be something that’s above politics. Verifying the people voting are the ones that should be voting should be our concern.” Syverson said.
According to the Illinois General Assembly’s website , SB2496 is currently being reviewed by the executive subcommittee on election law and is awaiting a March 22 hearing. The committee has been given a deadline of March 30.