Chicagoans may be able to register to vote on Election Day in their polling places, after all. A federal appellate judge on Tuesday halted a lower court judge’s decision to bar Election Day voter registration in polling places, after the Illinois Attorney General’s office argued last week that the statute doesn’t inhibit, but enhances the right to vote. The attorney general’s office on Sept. 30 filed a motion for a stay of the lower court ruling, pending appeal. A judge on Tuesday granted that motion, while also giving the defendants until Thursday to provide a statement about why they believe the appeals should be expedited, according to court records. The decision means same day registration in polling places will continue this Election Day, on Nov. 8. A federal judge on Sept. 27 ruled that the Illinois State Board of Elections must stop enacting Election Day voter registration in polling places because the practice doesn’t treat big cities and rural areas equally. The preliminary injunction by U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan came on National Voter Registration Day, a day aimed at ensuring voters are registered for the November election.
The law in question requires counties with more than 100,000 people to offer Election Day voter registration at all precinct polling places, but the judge ruled that is unfair to smaller counties.
“Illinois is made up of more than the Chicago metropolitan area and other high population areas. Equality under the law does not end at the city limits,” Der-Yeghiayan wrote, adding the bill “favors the urban citizen and dilutes the vote of the rural citizen.”
The Illinois State Board of Elections said Der-Yeghiayan’s ruling meant that in-precinct registration would have been prohibited on Election Day.