The Illinois Legislature has just approved sweeping election legislation (SB 172) that would make changes to just about every aspect of the state’s election process, including making the state’s pilot Election Day registration (EDR) program permanent. The bill is off to outgoing Governor Pat Quinn (D) for his expected signature, meaning that the state is about to see a wide variety of changes in when, where and how citizens register and cast their ballots. So what’s next? Here are a few things to watch:
+ The votes on the legislation were partisan, with Republican legislators resisting the notion that sweeping changes were necessary so soon after the 2014 election but before Quinn is replaced by Republican Bruce Rauner, who defeated him for re-election in November.
It doesn’t really require much prognostication skill to say that Illinois has fierce partisanship, but when one GOP legislator called the bill “The Voter Fraud Act of 2014” – echoing traditional geographic and partisan tensions – it doesn’t bode well for further debate in the Legislature.
+ EDR is still a work in progress in Illinois. Opponents of the bill seized on the fact that voters waited for hours on Election Day in Chicago to register, suggesting that it meant that a permanent move was premature. Now that the bill looks poised to become law, county election offices will have a big job in demonstrating that they can handle the load.