Illinois extends voter registration deadline
to 14 days before election
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[FEB. 14, 2005]
CHICAGO -- Gov. Rod
Blagojevich signed legislation Feb. 7 allowing prospective voters to
register 14 days before an election, instead of the previous 28 days
before an election. By creating the two-week "grace period,"
Senate Bill 2133 allows voters more time to register or change
their address and still have the chance to vote in the next
"I believe people should get every
opportunity to participate in the democratic process," said Gov.
Blagojevich. "In today's world, people are working hard and taking
care of their families. This law gives busy people extra time to
register and or update their information. This is a good law for the
hardworking people of this state and for our democracy."
Senate Bill 2133, sponsored by Sen.
James T. Meeks, I-Chicago, and Rep. Robin Kelly, D- Matteson, allows
individuals who wish to register to vote or change their address
during the grace period to do so in person at their local election
authority or at a specially designated site.
"I'm delighted the governor is signing the bill today," Rep.
Kelly said. "This is good, progressive legislation that has worked
well in other states to increase voter participation, especially
among younger residents."
"As American citizens, it is our
responsibility at election time to choose our leaders by
participating in the political process," Sen. Meeks said. "This is
the right that generations before us have fought and died for. This
is the right that sent women and African-Americans into the streets
in protest to demand the ability to cast a ballot for the person of
their choice. Anything we can do to make the voting process more
accessible is a step in the right direction, and providing an
additional two weeks will give voters more time to vote in the next
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Under the new law, voters who
register or change their address during the grace period and want to
vote in an upcoming election will be able to vote by mail or in
person at a site chosen by their local election authority. To
identify possible irregularities in grace-period votes, grace-period
votes will be kept separate from precinct votes and will be counted
at election headquarters.
The legislation brings Illinois'
registration time period in to line with many other states. Six
states, including Wisconsin and Minnesota, allow same-day
registration, and several others allow registration up to 15 days
before an election. The new Illinois law is based on the state of
Washington's grace period, which has a 28-day deadline for "regular"
registration and a 14-day deadline for "late" registration.
In 2004, under then-current Illinois
law, to be eligible to vote in the November election, registration
was required by Oct. 5, the day of the vice-presidential debate and
three days before the second of three presidential debates. With the
new regulations, the registration deadline would have fallen on Oct.
19, well after the debates, allowing a grace period for would-be
voters and potentially increasing voter turnout statewide.
Senate Bill 2133 becomes effective
[News release from the