Same day registration: Unfair advantage?

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ILLINOIS — Some question if same day voter registration at the polls is fair. Some Republicans say it isn’t since it’s not offered at every polling site and they want it stopped.

Casting a ballot is getting easier. With same day registration, Sangamon County clerk Don Gray says more people are able to get involved, but it hasn’t been easy.

“Properly vetting individuals to access and timely registering them has shown itself to have a challenge.”

Now, another challenge is being brought to light by some Republicans. They’re asking a judge to end Election Day registration.

They argue, if you want to sign up to vote, you should be able to do it at every polling site. Currently, it’s only offered in those counties with more than 100,000 people. 

“In our other counties, you can’t do that and I think that’s wrong. I personally think we should have a single location, like the county clerk’s office, if people who want to register the day of the election, they should go to the county building.”

Some Democrats agree it would leave thousands of people unable to vote on Election Say. Gray says same day registration was popular this year.

“We had lots of folks us it in 2014 in the pilot and, of course, in March, you had almost five times more utilize it in March than what we saw in the test in 2014.”

Representative Tim Butler (R) says another problem is same day registration is offered in mostly Democratically-controlled counties.

“I think it’s no surprise that Democrats expanded opportunities for people to vote in Democratic areas under Democratic rule when Governor Quinn was governor.”

Gray says some same day registration has proven to reduce lines at county buildings. Regardless of the outcome, Gray says he’s ready to make changes if needed.

The next scheduled court hearing is September 27. If changed, it would affect 21 counties and five major cities. Those in Central Illinois include Champaign, Sangamon and McLean counties, and cities like Chicago, East St. Louis, Rockford, Bloomington and Aurora.

More than a dozen states offer same day registration.

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