Illinois citizens will now be able to register to vote on the same day as voting. Today, Gov. Pat Quinn signed that into law and other new provisions that he says will expand voter access. But some Republicans are calling the new law purely political, and are criticizing the shadowy way in which it came about. This law will only affect the coming November election, not future elections, which have set off criticism that this relaxation of voting laws will ultimately benefit Democrats – not enfranchise more voters as supporters contend. But the governor and other lawmakers say they will revisit the law after the election, they just want to see how it works first. “This bill is designed to take a look at some new ideas,” Quinn said. “We want to see how it works. I think a lot of the election authorities asked us to make this a bill that would be for this election and take a look at how this works out.”
“This is not at all uncommon,” said State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), the bill’s sponsor in the Senate. “We have to return to respond to what we learned and make sure it works going forward.”
In addition to allowing voters to register either online or at a county clerk’s office on the same day they vote, it also expands early voting until the Sunday before an election – right now voting usually ends on the Saturday before the election. The law does not require anyone to bring a photo ID to the early voting booth. And it allows college students to change their addresses to their campus address to avoid having to vote absentee.
Cook County Clerk David Orr says half a million people move in Cook County every year, and many forget they have to re-register. He hopes this law helps solve that problem.