Cook County Clerk David Orr urged Gov. Rod Blagojevich to sign legislation recently passed by the Illinois General Assembly that extends the state’s voter registration deadline.
Under the proposal, sponsored by state Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Matteson) and state Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) and approved during the fall veto session, prospective voters can sign up as late as 14 days before an election. The state’s current registration deadline is 28 days before Election Day.
"This legislation gives qualified citizens the opportunity to take part in the electoral process," Orr said. "Many people with busy schedules don’t pay attention to political campaigns until the final weeks before an election. If they aren’t registered a month before the election, they’re shut out of the process."
Orr noted that two of the three presidential debates this year occurred after the state’s registration deadline had passed.
Voters who sign up within the two-week "grace period" before the deadline, must register at their local county clerk’s or election commission’s main office or at locations designated by the election authority, according to the bill. This will enable election officials to verify each voter’s identity and confirm his or her address. Those voters will vote absentee, either in person at the time they register or by mail.
Several states, including Washington and California, have extended voter registration deadlines until the final two weeks before Election Day. Five states allow voters to register on Election Day.
If signed into law by the governor, the legislation would take effect statewide before the March 2006 primary election.