What About Voter Registration in Illinois?
Part 1 - Facts of Voter Registration in Illinois:This is Part 1 in a 6 part series about voter registration in Illinois. This first article summarizes voter registration in Illinois. Part 2 will cover security risks in Illinois current voter registration process.
A vital role in the democratic process involves registering new voters. Changes in state and federal laws have changed how new voters register to vote. In Illinois, voters can register through the mail and in person. As a “Motor Voter” state, Illinois residents are offered the opportunity to register to vote when they apply for an Illinois driver’s license, Illinois ID card, or social services.
In Illinois, eligible voters can register to vote by:
• Mail in Registration
• An Illinois Secretary of State's drivers license facility.
• Other state government offices, including public assistance offices and military recruitment offices.
• A County Clerk's office
• A village, city or township clerk
• Deputy registrars: Trained volunteer deputy registrars may register you to vote.
• Grace Period Registration
To register to vote by mail, voters fill out the voter registration form and mail it to the Illinois State Board of Elections or their local election jurisdiction. Download Illinois Voter Registration Form. Mail-in registrations must be received 27 days before the election to qualify. If you register through the Illinois State Board of Elections, they will forward your application to the correct election authority. State-wide, voter registration applications are available in English and Spanish. In Chicago and Cook County, applications are also available in Hindi, Chinese, Korean and Polish.
First-time voters who register by mail no longer have to vote in person the first time they vote. They can either vote in person or vote absentee by mail. First-time registrations should include the applicant’s Illinois Driver’s License or State ID number, or the last 4 of the applicant’s social security number. Incredibly, this is not required. We will discuss security aspects of voter registration next week in part 2 of this series, “Security Lapses In Illinois Voter Registration Laws.”
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) is also known as The Motor Voter Act. This act was signed by President Clinton on May 20, 1993, and became mandatory in 1995. This legislation requires state governments to offer voter registration services when a qualifying voter applies for or renews their driver's license or applied for social services. The majority of new registrations come through this process.
New voters and current voters may register in person or change their voter registration information at the County Clerk’s office or at the local village, city, or township office.
Illinois also utilizes deputy registrars to sign up new voters. During this crucial pre-election summer, deputy registrars are being trained across Illinois to fill the important role of registering voters.
Deputy registrars in Illinois are sponsored by a certified organization or state agency and have been trained by a county clerk's office or other election authority. Certified sponsors include community organizations, interest groups, churches, schools, unions, political parties, and campaigns and local political organizations. In Part 3 of this series we will discuss deputy registrars.
Deputy registrars verify the identity of the person registering to vote, complete the registration card, and return it to the election jurisdiction’s designated location. Deputy Registrars will be busy registering new voters until October 9th, when the period for voter registration closes.
By law in Illinois, new voter registration is closed during the 27 days before any election up until 2 days following each election. Any voter wishing to register or to change their registration during this closed registration period must do so under separate laws of grace period voting.
Grace-period registration and voting is the only way to register or change the voter’s address or name after the regular registration period ends. For the November 6, 2012 Election, grace period registration and voting is conducted October 10 to November 3 at each Clerk’s office.
Grace-period registrants vote immediately after registering at the Clerk’s office. Grace-period registrants are not eligible to vote at the polls on Election Day and cannot take part in early voting.
There are separate requirements for identification when registering to vote in person and through the mail.
When registering to vote by mail, first-time registrations should include the applicant’s Illinois Driver’s License or State ID number, or the last 4 of the applicant’s social security number. When these forms of ID are not available, applicants send in one of the documents listed below.
When registering to vote in person, applicants must present two pieces of identification. Neither needs to be a photo ID, but one must include the applicant’s current address. Acceptable forms of ID include:
• Illinois driver's license
• Illinois state ID
• Employee or student ID
• Credit card
• Social security card
• Birth certificate
• Utility bill in applicant's name
• Mail postmarked to the applicant
• Valid U.S. passport
• Lease or rental contract
Important Dates in Voter Registration
08/08//2012 Last Day for election jurisdictions to complete systematic program removing ineligible voters prior to the November 6, 2012 General Election (Part 5 of this series will discuss this further)
10/9/2012 Last day to register to vote
10/10/2012 First day of grace period registration and voting
10/22/2012 First day of Early Voting
11/3/2012 Last day of Early Voting
11/3/2012 Last day of grace period registration and voting
11/6/2012 Election Day
“Facts of Voter Registration in Illinois – Part 1”, in the 6 part series, “What About Voter Registration in Illinois?” lays out voter registration information. Next week, Part 2 - Security Holes in Illinois Voter Registration - we will address significant security lapses in the Illinois voter registration process. Part 3 - How Many Dead Vote in Illinois - focuses on the security holes in our voter registration lists. Join us next week for Part 2 and 3.