Common Cause Illinois wins Same Day Registration Pilot Program; Fight Continues for Permanent Victory

Posted on June 2, 2014

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Common Cause is pushing back, state by state, against the attacks on voters across the nation -- and Illinois is no exception. In response, Common Cause Illinois (CCIL) achieved a victory last week for voters across the state.

Through grassroots organizing and lobbying, CCIL successfully pushed for passage of HB105. This election bill started off with enhancing college voter registration, and now establishes a Same Day Registration (SDR) pilot program for 2014. This is a good first step to eventually establish SDR in every precinct, which will result in higher turnout rates, increase access to the ballot box, and re-energize disenfranchised voters, especially among young people and in low-income communities of color.

The major reforms in HB105, which established a 2014 Same Day Registration Pilot program, include:

  • Providing election day registration at specified universal sites in all 110 local election jurisdictions
  • Ending the requirement for photo identification during early voting
  • Extending early voting hours and grace period voting through the Sunday before Election Day
  • Requiring in-person absentee voting at numerous state universities
  • We have come a long way to ensure that everyone eligible to vote casts their ballot during the November 2014 General Election. But we have a long way to go to make Same Day Registration permanent and offered in every precinct in Illinois. You can help by asking Speaker Madigan to make these reforms permanent. Sign this pledge now. Your pledge will get us one step closer to achieving the voting rights we all deserve.

    Brian Gladstein, the Director of Programs and Strategy at Common Cause Illinois, spent months in Springfield lobbying in favor of the amendment. Here is Brian's testimony that he presented to the Illinois General Assembly on May 29th:

    "Common Cause is a nonpartisan organization founded in 1970 by John Gardner as a peoples lobby to empower Americans to participate in the political process and to preserve our democracy. Over forty years later, Common Cause Illinois is keeping true to our original vision by engaging our over 10,000 supporters statewide.

    For the past year, Common Cause Illinois has been working as a founding member of the Just Democracy Campaign that comprises several organizations including Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, Chicago Votes, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Illinois Public Interest Research Group.

    Common Cause believes the constitutional right to vote is the cornerstone of our democratic society. Therefore, it is imperative that we adopt reforms to increase turnout and participation rates; provide increased access to the ballot box; and create a culture of political engagement and involvement, especially among people living in marginalized communities of color.

    Our vision for Illinois is to ensure that everyone who is eligible to vote casts a ballot on Election Day, no matter their political party. In order to reach this vision, we have launched a platform of election reforms for Illinois. These election reforms include 1) passing Same Day Registration in every precinct, 2) implementing electronic poll books in all 110 election jurisdictions, and 3) updating the Illinois Voter Registration System to function in "real time."

    We are encouraged by portions of what is in HB105--which gets us closer to what the people of Illinois deserve.

    The points of encouragement include the expansion of grace period registration in limited sites in each of the 110 jurisdictions in 2014. This is a good incremental step but we want to see this become a permanent system starting in 2015.

    We also would like to see more sites mandated by the legislature, but we are committed to work with the local election jurisdictions to provide an adequate amount of registration sites on Election Day.

    We are concerned that voters will have to use provisional ballots after registering on Election Day, but we understand the necessity for using provisional until jurisdictions are using electronic poll books. This is why we are recommending that the bill include language that allows for jurisdictions to use regular ballots and not provisional ballots once jurisdictions make the switch to electronic poll books.

    I also want to convey that the public is behind you in support for such reforms as you are considering today. In just the past month we were able to collect over 3,000 pledge cards from people all over the state in support for Same Day Registration.

    Common Cause Illinois commends the legislature for understanding the need for electoral reforms and support the incremental change that is in this omnibus bill. But incremental change only is a good strategy if there are tangible incremental benefits. Therefore, we strongly urge that our recommendations are considered in the language of the bill and look forward to working together with you on more robust legislation that will improve our election systems and empower voters here in Illinois."

    Sign the same day registration pledge now.

    Office: Common Cause National, Common Cause Illinois

    Issues: Voting and Elections, Voting and Elections

    Tags: Election Protection

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