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*** UPDATED x1 *** Illinois Policy Institute wants same-day registration law tossed ahead of election

Thursday, Aug 4, 2016

* Press release

The Liberty Justice Center has filed a federal lawsuit to strike down Illinois’ Election Day voter registration law. The lawsuit shows that this law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by making it more difficult for people to register to vote in some areas of the state than in others.

In 2014, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law creating a system for Election Day voter registration in Illinois. The law is unlike any other voter registration law in the U.S. because the availability of Election Day voter registration at polling places varies by county. The law requires counties with populations of 100,000 or more to offer Election Day voter registration at all polling places. However, the law does not require counties with lower populations to offer Election Day voter registration at all polling places – making it more difficult for people to register to vote in some areas of the state than in others.

Every state senator and representative who voted for this scheme was a Democrat, and every state senator and representative who voted against it was a Republican. Not coincidentally, high-population counties in Illinois tend to favor Democratic candidates; low-population counties in Illinois tend to favor Republican candidates. Former Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law during his final days in office.

“Illinois’ voter registration law is unconstitutional. The state cannot give some citizens better opportunities to vote than it gives to others,” said Jacob Huebert, senior attorney at the Liberty Justice Center. “If Illinois is going to have Election Day voter registration at polling places, it should be available statewide. And it should be fair.”

The plaintiffs in this case are Patrick Harlan, a candidate for Congress in Western Illinois, and the Crawford County Republican Central Committee.

The lawsuit asks the federal court to order the Illinois State Board of Elections to direct election authorities in all 102 Illinois counties not to provide Election Day registration at precinct polling places in the November election. That’s the only way a federal court can fix the unfairness of this law. Or, the General Assembly could fix the unfairness of the law by changing it, so that Election Day registration is available at polling places everywhere – not just in places where one political party wants to boost its turnout.

The center was created by the Illinois Policy Institute.

The filing is here. Video of its press conference is here. The group wants a preliminary injunction issued before this November’s election.

When asked why the group waited so long to file the lawsuit, the center’s spokesperson said “We didn’t notice it a year ago.”

*** UPDATE ***  Dave McKinney

State Senator Don Harmon, a Democrat from suburban Chicago and the law’s chief Senate sponsor, said Illinois law commonly differentiates between counties’ populations and said election officials in less-populous counties voiced concern about not having resources for polling place registration.

Under the law in question, voters in smaller counties can still register on Election Day in county clerks’ offices.

Harmon suggested the lawsuit’s real aim is to dampen Democratic voter turnout this fall, particularly in party strongholds like Cook County. In 2015, there were 4 million residents in the county above the voter-eligible age of 18, according to the U.S. Census. […]

“I suspect the plaintiffs are much more interested in having same-day registration thrown out in Cook County than they are in extending it to every small county in Illinois,” Harmon said.

If I was going to put on my tinfoil hat, I’d say it also has something to do with contested legislative races. The Institute is a major Rauner ally and he’s dumping millions of dollars into those races.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

41 Comments
  1. - Not It - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 2:43 pm:

    I don’t normally agree with this group, but this is a great point.

    You could interpret this bill as making it harder to vote in Republican parts of the State too; if there was a bill to make it harder to vote in Dem parts of the state the Dems would have gone berserk.


  2. - Obamas Puppy - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 2:43 pm:

    Ahh the defenders of democracy want less people to participate… The Koch funded shakedown artists continue their crusade.


  3. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 2:44 pm:

    If it were me, I’d be more worried about Labor remembering that the Right to Work Zone… and Lincolnshire… being the “test case”.

    That’s just me.

    To the Post,

    The legal eagles took over a year to find this? That’s… fun.

    I thought all the places Trump will do well won’t matter, isn’t this about statehouse house and senate seats?

    Or is this about statewide race(s)

    Hmm.


  4. - Saluki - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 2:46 pm:

    Good for them. I hope they win.


  5. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 2:48 pm:

    They do all of their election law filings in August, so they can claim its an emergency justifying a preliminary injunction. Which, when they don’t get, is immediately appealable and gets them two bites at the apple at the trial court
    Level.


  6. - Blue Bayou - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 2:49 pm:

    So, in order to make sure there is more registration, let’s sue to prohibit more registration because it isn’t robust enough.

    There you have the right wing in America in a nutshell.


  7. - The Dude Abides - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 2:50 pm:

    It’s not too difficult to see thru this. It’s nothing more than yet another effort by the GOP to suppress the vote of those likely to vote for Democrats. While doing this they speak of the need to have Redistricting Reform to make the democratic process more fair. Just another day in Illinois politics.


  8. - Jon - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 2:51 pm:

    While I suspect their true motivation is not as they state, they do have a point. I presume (with my blinders on) the GA set the 100k threshold as a nod towards the resources available to larger counties, but it will be pretty hard to overcome the argument that all Illinois voters should have the opportunity to register at the polls.


  9. - @MisterJayEm - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 2:52 pm:

    “The state cannot give some citizens better opportunities to vote than it gives to others”

    And that’s why the polling place of every single Illinois voter is within easy walking distance of home.

    – MrJM


  10. - Chicago_Downstater - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 2:55 pm:

    I’m guessing the innocent reason to limit the law to those counties with 100,000 or more voting eligible citizens would be to not overburden smaller communities with what amounts to an unfunded mandate, right?

    That being said, everyone should have access to same day registration. It’s not that resource intensive after all, right? The simple fix would be just to expand the legislation to cover all counties; not throw out the law.


  11. - Chicago_Downstater - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 2:57 pm:

    @ Jon

    Sorry, I didn’t see that you had already commented about the resource aspect. Thanks for bringing it up.


  12. - Anon221 - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 2:58 pm:

    When asked why the group waited so long to file the lawsuit, the center’s spokesperson said “We didn’t notice it a year ago.” - Priceless!


  13. - El Conquistador - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 3:01 pm:

    They’re bracing for huuuuuuge losses


  14. - Truthteller - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 3:03 pm:

    Why didn’t it sue to require smaller counties to permit registration in every precinct? That would promote liberty and provide justice, concepts the Institute has no real interest in


  15. - Norseman - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 3:05 pm:

    === “We didn’t notice it a year ago.” ===

    LOL. Those IPI shills are so hilarious. They must be concerned about GOP prospects and decided a little voter suppression was in order.


  16. - Amalia - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 3:05 pm:

    and all those Voter ID laws…..6 states so far, I believe….are falling. so you are swimming against the tide of justice, IPI.


  17. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 3:06 pm:

    They don’t notice a lot of things.


  18. - Dee Lay - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 3:09 pm:

    Jesus, these big throbbing brains…..

    “The law requires counties with populations of 100,000 or more to offer Election Day voter registration at all polling places.However, the law does not require counties with lower populations to offer Election Day voter registration at all polling place.”

    So let me get this straight, all 102 counties MAY offer election day registration, but counties over 100K SHALL offer election day registration. So, how is this preventing the Effingham County Board of Elections from offering Election Day registration?


  19. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 3:11 pm:

    This is about Kirk… this is about Munger.

    Like I said, I’d be more worried about Labor looking to Vote Accordingly, with Lincolshire as the “motivation”… for another reason for a proxy vote.

    It’s August, suppressing voters… hmm.


  20. - Ghost - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 3:13 pm:

    The requested releif does not fit the complaint. if the proble is it is not as easy to register in smaller counties, the somution isnt make it harder to register all around. The solution is to strike the population requirement and apply the same day reg to all counties.

    because this would otherwise look like a furtherance of the racist agenda to disenfranchise poor minority voters.


  21. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 3:13 pm:

    The bill doesn’t only allow for larger counties to do this, but it allows for smaller counties without electronic poll books to “opt out.” Not sure if that makes a difference or not, but if no counties opt out, no one’s right is being denied.


  22. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 3:14 pm:

    This…

    ===“I suspect the plaintiffs are much more interested in having same-day registration thrown out in Cook County than they are in extending it to every small county in Illinois,” Harmon said.===

    And this…

    ===If I was going to put on my tinfoil hat, I’d say it also has something to do with contested legislative races. The Institute is a major Rauner ally and he’s dumping millions of dollars into those races.===

    1,000%, agreed.

    Good quote that McKinney got.


  23. - Jaded - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 3:16 pm:

    Sorry the 3:13 anonymous post was mine.


  24. - illini - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 3:17 pm:

    Second attempt -

    == “We didn’t notice it a year ago.” === hard to believe, but okay, and now it is suddenly an emergency!

    It never ceases to amaze me the lengths, and the convoluted reasoning, some will go to to suppress voter turnout!

    But on the bright side, individuals can still register and vote ( simultaneously ) at all the County Clerks offices until the Saturday before the General Election.


  25. - Nearly Normal - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 3:22 pm:

    Our precinct had several new voters register and vote the same day during the Primary Election. No problems except for those who did not have proof of residence. Those few went home and came back with proof and voted.

    The precinct at Illinois State U Bone Student Center was overwhelmed by the students who showed up to register and vote. Again, a lot of them did not have proof of address and there was a lot of drama by some of them in that they thought this register and vote could be done in a matter of minutes.

    Another problem was that there weren’t enough election judges in place. The County Clerk did put extra judges there who were especially trained on the onsite registration software, but they were overwhelmed by the huge numbers who at the last minute decided to vote. This precinct had the highest number of votes for Bernie Sanders so these were enthusiastic voters determined to change the Democratic Party if not the world.

    Seeing the long lines and wanting to vote, many drove to Bloomington to register and vote at the County Clerk’s office. Again, not enough judges slowed down the process. In both cases, if they were in building at 7:00 pm, they were able to register and vote but it was a while getting to all of them.

    There were complaints and the county board did have the county clerk at a meeting to answer the charge that these voters had. Remember, this is a Republican-heavy county dealing with mostly Democratic voters. All the county officers are R’s. Clerk admitted that no one foresaw the deluge of voters at ISU. There were plenty of ballots but the judges were overwhelmed by the sheer number of new voters.

    My personal thought is that this problem will not be repeated in November. Since Bernie is not the candidate for President, there won’t be the deluge of new voters at ISU. All of us judges will be trained and ready for same day registration and voting. We are always supplied with plenty of ballots above the number of registered voters.


  26. - The Captain - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 3:24 pm:

    That being said, everyone should have access to same day registration. It’s not that resource intensive after all, right? The simple fix would be just to expand the legislation to cover all counties; not throw out the law.

    The law allows for every county to offer in-precinct same day registration. Counties over 100,000 or with electronic poll books have to, counties with less than 100,000 and no electronic poll books can opt-out but nothing prevents them from offering it. Here’s the specific language of the act:

    In counties with a population of less than 100,000 that do
    not have electronic poll books, the election authority may opt
    out of registration in the polling place if the election
    authority establishes grace period registration and voting at
    other sites on election day at the following sites: (i) the
    election authority’s main office and (ii) a polling place in
    each municipality where 20% or more of the county’s residents
    reside if the election authority’s main office is not located
    in that municipality.


  27. - Federalist - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 4:01 pm:

    It always amazes me that people can not take the time to register to vote well before the election. But I guess in a world that wants everything instantly, from a hamburger to paying a premium for fast delivery on an item that really makes no difference as to whether you get it the next day or a week from now, it should not surprise me.


  28. - The_Equalizer - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 4:02 pm:

    “LOL. Those IPI shills are so hilarious. They must be concerned about GOP prospects and decided a little voter suppression was in order. ”

    Bingo.


  29. - Enviro - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 4:14 pm:

    ==Under the law in question, voters in smaller counties can still register on Election Day in county clerks’ offices.==

    The Cook County Clerks office is a much greater distance from most voters than the county clerks office in smaller counties of less than 100,000.


  30. - Just Me - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 4:16 pm:

    To Senator Harmon - I can’t think of any election law that from a pure “right to vote” perspective is different from one county to another. For example, early voting laws are uniform throughout the state, not just for the counties where early voting is easy to administer.


  31. - Demoralized - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 4:17 pm:

    We should do whatever we can to make voting as easy as possible. The only reason anyone would oppose same day registration would be for partisan reasons and some perceived benefit for one party or another. Who cares when someone registers? If they are eligible they should be able to vote.


  32. - The All Knowing Oz - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 5:30 pm:

    The election isn’t until November, nobody can be that busy or that disabled not to register now. My parents are in a assisted living facility and guess what they got registered. It is called common sense people.


  33. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 5:48 pm:

    - The All Knowing Oz -

    People can just as easy show up on Election Day and vote.

    You cool with that?


  34. - Tom - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 6:11 pm:

    Just Me - actually requirements for early voting, number of locations, days & hours, are different for jurisdictions base on population.


  35. - Lucky Pierre - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 6:13 pm:

    Big surprise the Democrats passed a law that favors Cook County and hurts Republican areas. Not the first time that has happened.


  36. - Responsa - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 6:53 pm:

    From a purely practical standpoint people registering to vote on the day of the election do tend to impact the ability of election judges to perform their jobs efficiently –which in turn impacts the ability of the harried and already registered voters in line to get through the process in a reasonably timely fashion.

    Since in the voting place where I served as judge we had a number of young hopeful Bernie voters who came in groups and wanted to register (we knew this because they were wearing t-shirts or buttons which we had to ask them to remove), I agree with the commenter above who said the over-all problem will likely not be as great for new registerers in Nov. But the misunderstandings and arguments at the primary polls did point out the need for much more and better education about the process than word of mouth and blog entreaties to “get out and vote”.

    At the core of it all was a general lack of understanding by many of those trying to register about the requirements and proofs that are legally required “on the day of”.

    People here trying to make this a Dem vs. Repub thing are completely missing the boat on how ill-thought out the process was when it was legislated and what needs to be done to fix the circus that on-site voting day registration presents in general.


  37. - Michael Westen - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 6:54 pm:

    So now they are for unfunded mandates? Oh.


  38. - anon - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 6:57 pm:

    Though GOP legislators were opposed, Rauner supported same-day registration when it was passed. Perhaps he changed his mind.
    https://capitolfax.com/2014/06/10/rauner-supports-same-day-registration-bill/


  39. - Johnny Justice - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 7:00 pm:

    Be careful what you wish for…the Judge could fashion a remedy mandating same day polling place registration for all 102 Illinois counties!


  40. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Aug 4, 16 @ 10:59 pm:

    Spot on, Johnny Justice.

    Tillman may have really stuck it to himself on this one.


  41. - Doug Simpson - Friday, Aug 5, 16 @ 9:07 am:

    @lucky

    Out of over 800 MILLION votes cast between 2000 and 2014….31 instances of voter fraud.

    I’m much more worried about and electronic voting machine being hacked than voter fraud.


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