The Illinois House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that would make the voter registration process easier during a time when other states are coming under fire for tightening restrictions on voting. Illinois tried out a pilot program in the Nov. 4 election allowing voters to register on Election Day. Since then, the Illinois Senate passed legislation to make that program permanent and with a couple tweaks to the bill, the House gave its stamp of approval Wednesday. After the Senate OKs the amended legislation, it is expected Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn — who supported the pilot program — will sign the bill into law.
The process, which would streamline voter registration, is currently used in some form in about a dozen states and Utah also implemented a pilot program this year, the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan organization that supports legislators nationwide, said. On the flip side, Ohio and North Carolina recently ditched their same-day voter registration laws, prompting lawsuits by the Justice Department.
The new voting restrictions in Ohio and North Carolina, coupled with new voter ID laws in dozens of states — the NCSL said the number of states with some form of voter ID legislation has jumped between 2000 and 2014 from 14 states to 34 — have some critics complaining all voters don’t have equal, unfettered access to polls.