How Illinois Violates Voting Rights

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Written by Michael Bargo, Jr.

The 1964 Voting Rights Act and revisions addressed the right of the individual citizen in the U.S. to vote without obstruction or discrimination. The concept of one person one vote has been repeatedly upheld. While Illinois became infamous for having the dead vote and allowing multiple votes by one person, its legislature has adopted rules that seriously infringe upon the rights of all voters.

This more subtle, abstract, and far more dangerous practice implements a new method of vote theft: administratively denying voters any input into legislation; thereby violating the concept that government can only legislate with the “consent of the governed.”

In order to understand the nature of these tactics it’s necessary to go back and understand the role of the individual voter in government. The Declaration of Independence clearly states that government is “of, by and for” the people. It also clearly affirms that governed is based upon, and requires, the “consent of the governed.” The U.S. is not a nation of men but of laws.

The Voting Rights Act was enacted to protect access to the ballot box. But the ballot box, the choices made by voters, is supposed to end up as the sole basis of legislation affecting the voters. The interesting, — and currently threatened — connection between the ballot box and legislation is what needs to be carefully examined.

The details of how this connection was broken in Illinois has been researched and exposed by the Illinois Policy Institute.

The Illinois House has a “rule,” Rule 4, which clearly specifies that only the Speaker of the House has the authority to control what bills are, and are not, voted upon by the State House representatives. Representatives of the Illinois House are elected by the people and these representatives are supposed to craft bills in committees, come to agreement, and present the bills to the entire House. After being passed by the House they then go to the State Senate for approval. If a bill passes both houses of the IL General Assembly, then the governor has the authority to sign the bill, return it for amendments, or veto it.

The will of the people, the consent of the governed, is then expressed and manifested through bills crafted by their elected representatives. But if the Speaker of the House can control what bills come to a vote, the speaker has then denied the states’ representatives their constitutionally mandated mission to express the will of their voters. Taking one step back, the voters then, by having the voices of their duly elected representatives silenced, are denied their input into the state legislature. An input that is totally controlled, and therefore can be totally denied, by the speaker of the Illinois House through House Rule 4. Additionally, in Illinois the speaker alone, not a committee vote, chooses the committee chairmen. In Illinois, each committee chairman also receives an annual $10,000 stipend. This is also decided by the speaker.

And if the House doesn’t pass a bill, the state Senate cannot vote on it, and the bill dies. Similarly, if the State Senate passes a bill the speaker can refuse to have a vote on it. So in Illinois the will of the people, the consent of the governed, is totally controlled by one person, the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. In effect, the speaker, by denying voters any access to the legislative process, administratively steals the votes of all IL citizens; while giving them the illusion that they have a vote in state government.

This Rule 4 has stolen the authority of the state governor to veto bills since the bills are vetoed by the speaker. The governor can only sign or pass bills passed, not by the two chambers of the state legislature, but only those that the Speaker of the House allows to appear for a vote.

This strategy, of denying the people a voice in legislation, is a violation of the one person one vote concept that has been repeatedly affirmed by SCOTUS. The votes of not just one person but all people in Illinois are stolen by one person, the House Speaker. The autocratic rule practiced by Obama then can be understood because he comes from Illinois.

This has led to a one-man government in Illinois. All financial issues handled by the legislature are then controlled by one person and his political party. And that one person, House Speaker Michael Madigan, has served as speaker longer than anyone in U.S. history: since 1983.

The speaker and his allies have shrewdly allowed every vote to count, but just in the ballot count. The right to vote is preserved but the right to control government is taken away. And it’s all done by IL House Rules.

Another aspect of these rules is that there are no provisions for minority party input. Unlike the U.S. Senate, there is no filibuster, no opportunity for the minority party to add any amendments. Amendments are a meaningless exercise since the speaker has total control of the committee chairmen and the ability to present a bill to the house floor for a vote. The Senate and House are both controlled by Democrats. Illinois is the only state that has stolen the rights of voters in this way.

For two years, IL has not passed a state budget, another strategy the speaker uses to obstruct legislative compromise learned by Obama.

The core issue here is whether a state can use legislative “rule making” to, in effect, deny voters any input in legislation, or whether the concept of the “consent of the governed” needs to be reaffirmed by a federal court and guaranteed through legislative rule changes.

While the Supreme Court and Congress have worked for decades to guarantee the right to vote, no effort has been devoted to guarantee that voters’ choices have an impact on legislation. It’s as if, once the election, is over the legislature is entitled to write its own rules as to how effectively the will of the people is exercised through the legislative process and find its way into law.

The biggest difference, then, between the theft of ballots and the theft of the right to influence legislation is that it’s impossible to steal all the ballots of an election but very easy for a legislature to pass rules that deny all voters the right to influence the legislative process. Ballot box corruption has been replaced by legislative constitutional corruption.

The question the Supreme Court must answer is whether the concept of “consent of the governed” is as valid, and important, to the rule by the will of the people as the one person one vote right. While the concept of the “consent of the governed” seems abstract and obtuse, its value to government is beyond dispute. Whether these legislative state rules will survive constitutional scrutiny is the most interesting question. But in the meantime, voters in Illinois have had their right to influence government stolen through these administrative rules. Just as Obama nullified the will of the people through his executive orders.

Article originally published at