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State Sen. Turner plans to propose a voter ID law

State Sen. Sally Turner
State Sen. Sally Turner, a Republican from Beason, represents part of McLean County.

A central Illinois lawmaker whose district includes McLean County has moved into a party leadership role.

State Sen. Sally Turner of Beason is a new Republican whip. Turner said she plans to work across the aisle with Democrats who hold a super-majority.

In an interview on WGLT’s Sound Ideas, Turner said she plans to introduce a bill to require voters provide ID at the ballot box.

Turner, a former county clerk, said she’s not seen evidence of election fraud in Illinois, but added some voters may feel disenfranchised.

“They think others may be casting a ballot that really isn’t them. Indeed, I have not seen that be the case personally, but that might alleviate some of that headache,” Turner said.

The bill would likely require voters present the same forms of ID they use when they register, said Turner. Examples include a driver’s license, Social Security card, employee or student ID, utility bill or credit card.

She said the state would have to provide a free identification card for those who don't already have a form of ID.

“For a state ID, there shouldn’t be a charge for that,” said Turner, adding a voter ID requirement also would make it easier for election judges to verify a voters’ eligibility. Turner said she does not believe a voter ID equipment would suppress the vote by limiting access, as critics have argued.

“That thought is common, but as all of us know, this is such an important part of our democracy,” she said. “It’s just as important for us to have identification when we go to cast a ballot as it is in showing identification when we want to cash a check.”

Assault weapons ban

Turner said she stands with law enforcement in its refusal to enforce the state's new assault weapons ban. Dozens of sheriffs say they won't check to see whether those weapons are registered with Illinois State Police.

“I would be supportive of our sheriffs and our state’s attorneys in how the decide that that law should be interpreted locally,” said Turner, adding all sheriffs in the 44th Senate District have said they don’t plan to enforce the measure. Turner's district includes a large swatch of mostly rural areas between Bloomington-Normal, Springfield and Decatur.

Turner voted against the law. It passed in a mostly partly-line vote. Gun rights advocates are expected to sue, claiming the ban is unconstitutional.

Gov. JB Pritzker has said law enforcement is duty bound to enforce the law.

College closures

Professors who lost their jobs when their college closed could more easily find work teaching in a K-12 school, under another bill Turner plans to file.

Turner has two colleges in her home county, Lincoln College and Lincoln Christian University, that shut down last year. Turner said she's concerned that will become a trend.

“I think we are going to see a little bit more of this as people climb out of COVID,” Turner said. "Colleges took a bit hit. So we are hopeful this might bring more teachers to our area.”

Turner believes easing the requirements for instructors who already have the qualifications will help ease the teacher shortage.

GOP unity

Turner moves into Republican party leadership at a time when the GOP is doing some soul searching. Turner speaks well of Jim Durkin, the outgoing House Republican leader, but had nothing to say about his critique of the party becoming too conservative and unwilling to compromise.

“I don’t come at this position with this big political mindset,” Turner said. “I come at it more as a person that works for my district. That’s just who I am as a person.”

Turner said she believes she can work across the aisle to get bills passed. She wants the state to stiffen penalties for fentanyl dealers to address the drug epidemic.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.