SPRINGFIELD - March 17, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today signed a bill into law that moves Illinois’ general primary election to the third Tuesday in March of even-numbered years. Currently, the primary election is held on the first Tuesday in February of even-numbered years.
“Having the general primary election in March will increase voter turnout and encourage the people to have a greater voice in the election process, which is what democracy is all about,” said Governor Quinn. “It provides voters with more time to delve into the issues and to know the candidates who seek to represent them.”
Senate Bill 355, sponsored by Sen. Deanna Demuzio (D-Carlinville) and Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), was passed with overwhelming support in the General Assembly. Among those also supporting the new law is: AARP, Cook County Clerk, Illinois Association of County Clerks and Recorders and the Montgomery County Clerk. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2011.
In 2007, the Illinois General Assembly moved the primary election from the third Tuesday in March, when it had been held since the 1970s, to the first Tuesday in February. The move was made to ensure that the Illinois primary would be relevant in the 2008 presidential contest.
However, supporters of the new law determined the combination of Illinois’ winter weather and campaign activity so soon after the holidays led to decreased turnout among voters at the Feb. 2, 2010 general primary election.