Illinois Lawmakers Back Election Day Registration, Expanded Early Voting

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  • Dale Eisman

SPRINGFIELD, IL — In the wake of a midterm election marked by record low turnout and other troubling signs of citizen disengagement, Illinois lawmakers moved Wednesday to modernize the state’s antiquated voting system and make it easier for people to join the electorate.

“Too many of our states seem intent on making voting more difficult. Today’s action in Illinois, allowing citizens statewide to register on Election Day, expanding early voting, and taking other steps to modernize the voting process, sets a better example for the nation,” said Common Cause President Miles Rapoport.

“States with Election Day registration typically report turnouts 10 to 12 percentage points higher than those without the reform in place,” Rapoport said.  “And most poll workers surveyed in states with EDR favor its implementation.  That’s a win for voters and poll workers alike.”  

“Expanding access to the democratic process is critical in Illinois, where we have second lowest voter turnout in the Midwest,” said Anne Manly, Action Team Chair of Common Cause Illinois. “With the passage of SB 172, we are joining other Midwestern states — Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota — in offering in-precinct Election Day Registration. This is a sign of serious progress in improving our democracy.”

Common Cause Illinois is part of Just Vote, a coalition of advocacy groups that spearheaded the drive to pass the legislation. “The passage of this landmark legislation is a huge victory for every voter in Illinois,” said Marissa Liebling, Program Director of Just Vote. “This law will strengthen the democratic process in our state and bring countless new voters into the fold.”

A pilot program in some precincts for the Nov. 4 General Election demonstrated the need for Election Day registration, with thousands of citizens registering and voting at Election Day registration locations throughout the state.

Because the General Assembly acted quickly to make this reform permanent, jurisdictions have plenty of time to prepare for implementation of the measures, including in-precinct Election Day Registration for all jurisdictions with a population of more than 100,000.