Hey, good news! The bill passed!
The vote was 33-24-2. Every Democratic Senator except for Gary Forby and Bill Haine voted yes, while the two Republican Senators to break party ranks and vote yes were Dave Sullivan and Dan Cronin, earning our gratitude.
Senator James Meeks did an excellent job during the debate, and almost won over Senator Wendell Jones (a nice bulldog of an old-school Palatine Republican) by arguing that "if some voter catches a Wendell Jones commercial on television 14 days before the election, and is touched by the commercial, and says to himself 'that guy makes sense' he should be able to run down to the county clerks office and register to vote." I thought he had Jones with that one, but he voted no.
Senator Susan Garrett spoke eloquently on the bill as well, speaking as a former League of Women Voters leaders and a deputy registrar, and calling for making voter registration as convenient as possible.
Lots of Republican Senators spoke against the bill, and though I found the substance of their critique of the grace period lacking, they were all in good faith. Senator Wendell Jones was a little bit over the top, yelling that "we all know cemeteries vote in Chicago!"
Then Senator Rickey "Hollywood" Hendon spoke up and launched into a tirade, lambasting the Republicans for fighting a move to make it easier to vote, a precious freedom that we are in Afghanistan and Iraq to implement for their people. He called on the Republican Senators to stop attacking the premise and vote for the bill.
Then Senator Peter Roskam stood up and critiqued Senator Hendon for ironically trying to intimidate senators into submission in the name of better democracy. This provoked Senator Hendon to seek recognition, and Senator Miguel Del Valle, in the President's Chair, was very reluctant to recognize Hendon, because everyone know Senator Hendon would launch into another attack back at the Republicans.
"Since your name was not mentioned during debate. . ." Senator Del Valle began (because if your name was mentioned in debate, you have the privilege of speaking and the President has the duty to recognize you), which sparked applause from the Republicans. But then Del Valle chose to recognize Hendon who stood up and said "Sorry, Peter."
It was funny. Maybe because I was so ridiculously tense up in the galleries, but I thought it was hysterical.
And then we won the vote! Robin Kelly made it onto the floor to see the bill pass as well. It was a great night for democracy.
Now Governor Blagojevich needs to sign the bill. So please, email him and ask him to sign SB 2133. Click here on the state's website to submit your letter right now. Even better: send a letter. Mail it here: Office of the Governor, 207 State House, Springfield, IL 62706.
I'm telling you, I've never been more convinced that we progressives need to help our elected officials pass good policy to raise living standards. All that money spent on the presidential campaign -- we should spend some of it on helping Blue State leaders pass good policy.