* As we’ve already discussed, the Illinois Policy Institute’s legal arm filed a lawsuit to block implementation of the state’s election day registration law because it allegedly applied unevenly and unfairly to different parts of the state. Large counties were required to have same day registration at the precinct level, while smaller counties only had to provide a single central registration/voting location.
US District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan sided with the plaintiffs today and issued a preliminary injunction. Unless this is successfully appealed, precinct registration on election day in the state’s ten largest counties will be prohibited.
Click here for the full ruling…
*** UPDATE 1 *** Press release…
Joint Statement of
ACLU of Illinois and the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
RE: Decision in challenge to Illinois’ Election Day Registration System
September 27, 2016
Earlier today, U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan granted a motion to block Election Day voter registration at polling places in Illinois for the November general election. The decision comes in the case of Harlan v. Schotz, in which plaintiffs claimed that election day registration (EDR) as authorized in Illinois is unconstitutional because while it is mandated in all 102 of the state’s counties, only larger population counties are required to have EDR available at each polling place. All counties are required to have EDR available at their central election headquarters, often the county seat. The court’s order today undermines the wide availability of Election Day registration at polling places.
A group of voting rights advocates, including the ACLU of Illinois, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Better Government Association, League of Women Voters of Illinois, and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, filed an amicus brief in August urging Judge Der-Yeghiayan to reject the effort to eliminate EDR so close to the November general election. EDR has been in place in Illinois since the 2014 general election. In the March 2016 primaries, more than 100,000 eligible persons registered and voted using EDR, including Democratic and Republican voters.
The following can be attributed to Edwin C. Yohnka, Director of Communications and Public Policy, ACLU of Illinois:
“We are concerned about the impact of this decision, changing the rules of voting so close to this hotly-contested election. We must continue to use every available method to ensure that every eligible voter in our state can access the ballot – not create obstacles to the franchise. We encourage the State of Illinois and the Cook County Clerk – parties in this matter – to explore all legal options to protect voters’ rights. Thousands of people who are depending on EDR could lose the ability to vote if this ruling stands for the November general election.”
The following can be attributed to Ami Gandhi, Director of Voting Rights and Civic Empowerment:
“We are extremely disappointed in this decision, on National Voter Registration Day, to restrict ballot access across the state. We want to be clear: scaling back Election Day Registration threatens to silence thousands of eligible voters in Illinois. We urge the Illinois State Board of Elections and the Cook County Clerk’s office, who are parties in the action, as well as all election authorities across the state to pursue all options to promote voter access and minimize confusion for voters this close to Election Day.”
*** UPDATE 2 *** Press release…
Common Cause Illinois and other members of the Just Democracy Illinois coalition are disappointed by the federal judge’s decision to grant a preliminary injunction that would suspend Election Day Registration in polling places for the November Presidential election.
“To suspend Election Day Registration and suppress the vote less than two weeks before the voter registration deadline will hurt communities across Illinois who were counting on being able to register and vote on November 8,” said Trevor Gervais, Lead Organizer for Common Cause Illinois. “The court’s decision to side with a conservative group with ties to ALEC and the Koch brothers, combined with Governor Rauner’s recent veto of Automatic Voter Registration, signals a step backwards for voting rights in Illinois and continues a nationwide trend of coordinated and well-funded voter suppression efforts.”
The challenge to Election Day Registration is a troubling tactic to limit voter turnout during such a crucial election year. This decision further threatens communities with a history of experiencing voter suppression, at a time when voter interest is anticipated to be extremely high.
“Election Day Registration breaks down barriers to the ballot and ensures that the right to vote is accessible to all citizens,” said Andy Kang, legal director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. “We will fight this ruling on the appeal and also continue our efforts to override the veto of Automatic Voter Registration. Ensuring that these two measures are law will help restore Illinois as a national leader in ballot access.”
More than 110,000 people registered to vote on Election Day last March.
It is fully anticipated that the Illinois Attorney General’s Office will be appealing the decision to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The next court date is set for October 27th, with the appeal to be heard as soon as possible. Common Cause Illinois and other voting rights advocates are confident that there will be a favorable ruling in the appeals process.
*** UPDATE 3 *** From the League of Women Voters…
Today’s decision in Harlan v Schotz (in which plaintiffs claimed that election day registration (EDR) as authorized in Illinois is unconstitutional because while it is required in all 102 of the state’s counties, only counties with populations greater than 100,00 0 must have EDR at each polling place. All counties are required to have EDR available at their central election headquarters), by the United States District Court is a disappointing one – not so much based on the merits of the plaintiff’s underlying argument that smaller counties are at a disadvantage when it comes to EDR but the fact that the decision comes so close to the 2016 election. One voter registration deadline is less than two weeks from today.