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Dev Gowda,
Illinois PIRG

Just Democracy Campaign Commends IL Legislature on Good First Step for Election Reform

For Immediate Release

SPRINGFIELD, IL — The Just Democracy campaign congratulates the Illinois Legislature for passing HB105 last Friday evening. The legislation will make it easier for Illinoisans to vote by allowing eligible Illinoisans to register or update their voter registration and then vote on Election Day.

The pilot Same Day Registration option will be available at permanent early voting and grace period registration sites, as well as a number of additional sites added at the discretion of local election authorities.

Advocates are confident this legislation will be the first step in the fight for permanent, precinct-wide Same Day Registration in Illinois, a measure that could increase voter turnout by as much as 8-12 percent, including an estimated 150,000 additional minority voters.

“We commend our elected officials for understanding the need to break down barriers for people to vote, especially disenfranchised people living in marginalized communities of color.” said Abdelnasser Rashid from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. “ICIRR represents thousands of new citizens and it is imperative to foster a culture of civic engagement early in the process. This bill is a good step towards that goal but we ultimately need precinct-wide same day registration.”

“Over 18,000 ballots were rejected in the 2012 election because the voters were not properly registered or registered in the wrong place,” said Marissa Liebling from the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Many states have embraced this policy because registration deadlines are an unnecessary barrier. Precinct-wide Same Day Registration preserves a chance to vote for new voters who may be confused about the process, those whose voter applications were lost or mishandled, or those who simply forgot to change their registration.”

Same Day Registration was pushed onto the state agenda this session through the efforts of the Just Democracy campaign, a diverse coalition devoted to increasing electoral access for those in marginalized communities. Just Democracy—which is comprised of Asian Americans Advancing Justice; the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law; Chicago Votes; Common Cause Illinois; the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; and the Illinois Public Interest Research Group; met with legislators and delivered over 3,500 letters, petition signatures, comment cards, and letters in support of the measure to legislators.

“We must create a system in which every eligible voter is able to cast a ballot on Election Day to ensure all voices are heard,” said Dev Gowda of Illinois Public Interest Research Group. “We are encouraged by this first incremental reform but much more is needed to make Illinois the most voter-friendly state in the country.”

Just Democracy also pushed the bill creating Online Voter Registration last year, and is helping to oversee its implementation by July 2014.

For more information about the Just Democracy Campaign, please visit www.justdemocracyillinois.org.

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