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Voters to decide on 2 constitutional amendments

Published: Saturday, April 12, 2014 12:18 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, April 12, 2014 12:56 a.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD – Voters in Illinois will be asked whether to amend the state constitution in at least two different ways.

The Illinois Legislature this week overwhelmingly voted to put questions on voter and crime victim rights on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The voter rights amendment, sponsored by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan of Chicago, would prevent people from being denied the right to register to vote or cast a ballot based on race, color, ethnicity, status as a member of a language minority, sex, sexual orientation or income.

Nine states have made it harder to vote since the beginning of 2013 – most by strengthening identification requirements. Democrats say such measures disenfranchise lower-income people – often Democrats – who don’t have IDs or money to acquire documents.

The other measure was sponsored Democratic Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago and Democratic Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie. It would provide for more enforceable victim rights in trials and court proceedings, as well as post-trial proceedings. Currently, advocates say, the state constitution guarantees crime victims certain rights but they’re technically unenforceable.

“Because of this amendment, victims across the state may be given more opportunities to secure a sense of justice and closure,” Democratic Senate President John Cullerton of Chicago said in a statement.

The amendments, can, by law, be added to the constitution if they’re approved by three-fifths of those voting on the measure or a majority of those voting in the election.

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