House bill looks to register FOID, CCL applicants to vote

Illinois FOID cards
Illinois FOID cards(MGN)
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 5:06 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - A bill proposed in the house wants to combine voter registration and FOID or conceal carry applications into one process.

The bill would work similarly to the Automatic Voter Registration Act, which registers residents to vote when they get or renew their driver’s license. The proposal would also apply to conceal carry licenses.

“This is a state agency a lot of people interact with,” Representative Avery Bourne (R - Litchfield) said. “If it’s a goal of ours to have people who interact with state agencies register to vote, then adding this one in a workable way makes sense.”

The dual application would assume a FOID or conceal carry applicant would want to be registered to vote. The applicant must opt out of voter registration if they wish.

The Illinois State Police manages FOID and conceal carry applications, whereas the Secretary of State’s office handles driver’s license issues.

In the committee, representatives were concerned the measure would not broaden voter registration. When the ISP receives a FOID or CCL application they use the Secretary of State’s office to verify the applicant’s address, Representative Katie Stuart (D - Collinsville) said.

“Basically you already have to have a valid driver’s license or ID card,” Stuart said. “I’m all for getting people registered to vote, I think it’s important. AVR is a great thing we do in the state... I’m just not clear that this would broaden that.”

ISP is opposed to the bill, saying it is redundant. To enact the proposal, ISP would have to devote resources to processing applications and sending them along to the Illinois Board of Elections. Representatives at ISP were not present at the House committee to testify to the bill.

Additionally, as FOID and CCL backlogs continue, some representatives worry taking resources away from police issues and devoting them to voter registration might be a problem.

“I think we want our police officers focused on processing our FOID cards and solving crimes and preventing violence, right? I don’t know that we want to be taking people off the street and retraining them to be voter registrars. I don’t know if that makes a whole lot of sense,” said Representative Daniel Didech (D - Buffalo Grove).

No action was taken on the bill in the hearing, as the primary bill sponsor is Representative Mark Batnick (R - Plainfield). It’s been tabled until the committee’s next meeting.

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