On Again/Off Again Election Day Voter Registration Lands On "On"

Oct 7, 2016

Illinois voters will be able to register and cast their ballot at the same time - on election day, Nov. 8th. The U.S. Court of Appeals handed down a ruling Friday that puts an end to a series of back-and-forth court orders issued in recent weeks.

Illinois first permitted voters to register on election day two years ago. But it only had to be available at one location in a jurisdiction.

In places it was so popular, there were huge lines.

A law set to take effect for this general election sought to curb that problem.

The law requires heavily-populated jurisdictions to offer election-day registration for voters in all precincts, so there will be more places for procrastinating voters to go if they're in Chicago, Aurora, Rockford, Bloomington and East St. Louis than voters who reside in rural areas.

The conservative Liberty Justice Center, an arm of the Illinois Policy Institute, claims that's unfair to rural residents, and sued.

Something to keep in mind: The law was passed by Democrats, who control the General Assembly, and rural areas trend Republican; populated ones trend Democratic.

The lawsuit met some success in court. For a while, it looked like Illinois would not allow election-day registration at all.

But a recent ruling reversed that. And now the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals says that's how it will stay, at least, through election day.

The case can continue. Its outcome, though, wouldn't have any effect until the next election, as the hearing is set for Nov. 10.

A reminder from the Attorney General: Wherever you do it, election-day registrants must bring two forms of ID.

You don't have to wait until then. Illinois offers grace-period registration until the day before the election.

Also, early voting has already started. President Barack Obama cast his early vote Friday afternoon in Chicago. He's back in his hometown to help Illinois' Democrats U.S. Senate nominee, Tammy Duckworth, campaign against incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Mark Kirk.