Illinois Makes It Easy To Register And Vote. So Why Aren't More People Doing It?

Nov 7, 2016

Credit Wikimedia

Illinois makes it easier than other states to register to vote, but do residents take advantage of the state's laws?

Illinois residents who don't have much of an excuse for not casting a ballot.

Wallet Hub's Jill Gonzalez looked at whether states offer early voting, no-excuse absentee voting, online voter registration and election-day registration.

"Illinois is 4 for 4 for each of those voter accessibility policies," Gonzalez said. That puts Illinois at the top of states when it comes to voter accessibility.

And yet Illinois ranked 28th in registration, and 34th when it comes to citizens actually voting.

"Hopefully we can see both of those numbers go to the flip side and become better than average," she said.

Gonzalez says one factor may be Illinois' big age gap. The last presidential election, 35-percent of Illinois voters 24 and younger voted, versus 70-percent of seniors.

She says the most politically engaged states (the District of Columbia, Colorado and Wisconsin) see more young residents going to the polls.

When it comes to voter engagement overall, Illinois ranks right in the middle of the pack, at 23rd.

Gonzalez says analysts looked at factors like age, GDP and whether a state is considered to be solidly Democratic or Republican. Illinois' blue leanings may contribute to the voter turnout trends.

"I think that it really does come down to the state leaning, to be blue, a lot of times when it comes to presidential elections," she said. "And some voters feel like they have maybe less of a say, maybe that their vote doesn't count as much. And that can be either if they're voting for either a blue or a red candidate."

Even if you feel that way, there's an item on every ballot that's not partisan: A proposal to amend the state constitution.