Same Day Voter Registration Pilot Project
In the 49th Ward we are fortunate to have Cook County Clerk David Orr as one of our residents. The state of Illinois has passed into law a same day legislation statue that David's office will implement and administer as prescribed by the law. We are fortunate that David Orr has provided us with with a summary of this law and other legislation contained in HB 105 as follows below.
Same day registration… a step toward ALL INclusive voter lists
The big election news out of Springfield at the end of May was passage of HB 105, an elections omnibus bill that included a same-day registration pilot program. In fact, there were several provisions in HB 105 that will expand voter registration and voting opportunities for the November 4, 2014 General Election. These include, at limited sites:
• Longer early voting hours during the final week of early voting;
• Extension of early voting by one day, through the Sunday before the election at limited sites;
• Extension of voter registration through the Sunday and Monday before Election Day at limited sites; and
• Same-day registration during voting hours on Election Day at limited sites – not in Election Day precincts.
What does this mean? It means that people who have forgotten to register to vote, or to update their registration, will have an extra chance to register – and vote – up to and during Election Day. These opportunities will be available in selected locations, which will likely be finalized and published in late summer.
While these extended registration opportunities are only authorized for a test run in November, I believe they can be the first steps toward true same-day in-precinct registration. However, every change creates new challenges for election jurisdictions and voters. As noted, early voting on Sundays, grace period registration and same-day registration will be offered at limited sites. Also, since fewer sites are available on Sundays, we should remind everyone to avoid last-minute voting to prevent excessive wait times on that last Sunday -- the final day of early voting.
All of these reforms, including same-day registration, will ultimately work better once Illinois passes a broader election modernization package that I call ALL IN. The goal of ALL IN is to create cleaner and more inclusive voter lists, which will ultimately make Election Day run more smoothly, and eliminate the need for last-minute registration. ALL IN includes:
• Authorization for Illinois’ participation in the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), to compare our driver’s license and voter data to other states, to remove people who have moved or died, and to identify potential new voters;
• Authorization to use National Change of Address (NCOA) data to update voter information; and
• Implementation of “electronic registration” at government agencies, so that voters who update their driver’s licenses, purchase new auto stickers or conduct other common transactions can conveniently update changes to their voter records at the same time.
While ALL IN proposals did not advance this last legislative session, I plan to keep working toward them. Each year, roughly a half million people move within Cook County, 150,000 more arrive here and 200,000 move to a different county or state. But even currently registered voters do not know they must re-register when they move, or they believe that the USPS change-of-address form automatically updates their voter registration. It’s no surprise that right now there are an estimated 2 million people in Illinois alone who are eligible to vote but are not registered. ALL IN has enormous potential to save government money and improve the accuracy of voter rolls by keeping people registered when they move or interact with government agencies.
I know that election advocates and officials alike are revved up to begin using Illinois’ new Online Voter Registration system when it kicks off this July, and eager to promote the same-day registration pilot this fall. With hard work, I hope we can look forward to doing the same for the ALL IN proposals in the near future.