OAK PARK – Governor Pat Quinn today signed landmark legislation to expand voting opportunities in Illinois. The new law is designed to encourage participation in elections and streamlines the registration and early voting processes. Today’s action is part of Governor Quinn’s agenda to increase participation in our democracy and ensure that every voice is heard in Illinois.
“Democracy works best when everyone participates,” Governor Quinn said. “By removing unnecessary roadblocks to the ballot box, more residents will be able to exercise their constitutional right and have their voices heard. This new law will help more people across Illinois have a say in how their community, state and nation are run.”
“Illinois has made great strides for voting rights in the last few years with the passage of online voter registration and 17-year-olds voting in primaries," Cook County Clerk David Orr said. "Now thanks to this additional expansion of voting opportunities, voters will have more ways to register and cast their ballot before and on Election Day.”
House Bill 105, sponsored by State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) and State Senator Don Harmon (D-Oak Park), streamlines the registration and early voting process and addresses a number of issues that have made casting a ballot difficult in the past.
The new law will allow same day voter registration. It also extends in-person early voting hours and removes identification requirements for in-person voting by registered voters. The law also allows some public universities to serve as election-day in-person absentee voting centers, increases the window for vote-by-mail applications and expands early and grace period voting throughout the state.
The changes are in effect for the upcoming November general election.
The new law corrects several past voter participation problems in Illinois. Many people’s work hours or other commitments do not permit them to take advantage of existing early or regular voting opportunities. Nearly 13 percent of Americans move in an average year, and unless these people remember to update their voter registrations, they may not be able to vote.
“As we approach Independence Day, this legislation reminds us of one of our most precious freedoms – the right to vote,” Representative Currie said. “This sweeping new law encourages participation in the democratic process like never before. I was proud to sponsor the measure in the House, and applaud Governor Quinn for signing it into law.”
“Voting is a right and a vital part of our country’s social and political fabric,” Senator Harmon said. “To encourage people to participate, we should be doing everything we can to make it easier to vote without weakening the integrity of the voting system.”
Governor Quinn has long been a champion of expanding voting rights and opportunities. Last year, Governor Quinn increased access to democracy across Illinois by giving 17-year-olds the ability to vote in primary elections if they are 18 years old by the general election date. In 2011, Governor Quinn signed the state’s first voting rights act. The Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011 protects the voting rights of racial and language minority communities throughout Illinois and encourages public participation in the redistricting process.