A change in Illinois law forcing large counties to provide same-day voter registration at polling places is drawing opposition from those charged with implementing it. The law requires same-day registration at all polling places in counties and municipalities with populations of more than 100,000. Illinois had tried same-day voter registration at a few polling places in each county during the November 2014 election. A month later, state legislators passed the law, which became effective June 1. With the exception of the special election to replace congressman Aaron Schock, county clerks are eyeing the change for 2016 elections. But early cost estimates of seven figures have several suburban officials — Democrats and Republicans alike — balking. Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham estimates the cost of same-day registration at $1.8 million. That’s for $16,000 worth of equipment per polling place, plus training two people to register the voter. Kane County had same-day registration at five sites in November 2014; the new law requires same-day registration at 96 more sites in the county. “It’s a real burden,” Cunningham said.
His fears are about more than just money. The five sites with same-day registration in 2014 had as many as 50 people still in line when polls were set to close. Because the law prevents the counting of ballots until all polling places are closed, election results came in much more slowly as a result, Cunningham said.
Lake County has even more polling places than Kane — 123 in total. County Clerk Carla Wyckoff said the process of registering voters on the same day of the November 2014 election took about 17 minutes per person. To get around that, she will put those folks in a separate line than voters who are already registered. Her larger concern is the $1 million estimated cost.
One of the larger headaches, she said, is a provision that requires Lake County’s 14 early voting places to become universal voting sites. Every ballot style, from every other polling location, must be available at the early voting sites.