Court Bars Same-Day Illinois Voter Registration

     CHICAGO (CN) — Illinois voters will not be able to register at the polls in November thanks to preliminary injunction granted by a federal judge today. State law requires counties with a population of 100,000 to allow citizens to register when voting, but the rest don’t have to and don’t. A lawsuit claims that’s an advantage for urban Democrats.
     The Illinois State Board of Elections will be barred from allowing same-day voter registration while a lawsuit is pending.
     The Republican Central Committee of Crawford County in downstate Illinois and western Illinois Congressional candidate Patrick Harlan filed the lawsuit in August, saying the law discriminates against the Republican Party and violates the 14th Amendment.
     The state’s law currently requires counties with a population of over 100,000 to allow citizens to register when voting, but the rest don’t have to. None of them do because of cost and logistics, leaving only 20 counties out of 102 with same-day registration.
     “High-population counties in Illinois tend to favor Democratic candidates; low-population counties in Illinois tend to favor Republican candidates,” the Liberty Justice Center, representing the plaintiffs, said in a press release.
     From 2004 to 2014 higher-population counties voted 62 percent Democrat while the others voted 54 percent Republican, according to the lawsuit.
     “The system they created is not fair,” lead attorney Jacob Huebert said of the state legislature after the lawsuit was filed, adding that Democrats have “rigged the system to keep themselves in power.”
     Cook County Clerk David Orr filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit as an intervenor, which was also denied, and a group of voting-rights organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters filed a brief against the injunction.
     The groups say in the brief that the plaintiffs have asked the court “to prevent thousands of people from voting in this November’s election.”
     But Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan found that the plaintiffs were likely to ultimately prevail on their constitutional claim and that allowing the current scheme to remain in place for the November election would cause irreparable harm to voters in low-population Illinois counties, says a press release from the Liberty Justice Center.
     The court stated that the law improperly “favors the urban citizens and dilutes the vote of the rural citizen.”
     “Today the court recognized the unfairness of guaranteeing a voting right to some voters but not others,” Huebert says of the opinion, which is not yet available.
     “If Illinois is going to have Election Day voter registration at polling places, it should be available statewide — and it should be fair.,” Huebert adds. “The government shouldn’t make it harder for people in some parts of the state to register and vote.”
     “We just administer the laws,” Jim Tenuto, the election board’s Assistant Executive Director, told Courthouse News when the lawsuit was filed. “Whatever the court decides we’ll follow.”
     Shortly after this article went to the press, Courthouse News was notified the decision has now been appealed.

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