Lawsuit Claims Illinois Voting Law Hurts GOP

     CHICAGO (CN) — An Election Day voter registration law in Illinois is unconstitutional and discriminates against the Republican Party, a federal lawsuit filed Thursday claims.
     The law, passed in 2014, requires counties in the state with a population of over 100,000 to provide voter registration at the polls while those with a lower population do not have to.
     Because that kind of system is “costly and difficult to implement,” those remaining counties choose not to do it, lead attorney Jacob Huebert of the Liberty Justice Center told reporters at a press conference.
     That leaves only 20 counties out of 102 that allow Illinois citizens to register the same day they vote.
     “The system they created is not fair,” Huebert said, adding that the “state cannot give some citizens an easier opportunity to vote” by “arbitrarily discriminating against certain voters based on where they live.”
     But the real reason the law was passed has nothing to do with population and everything to do with party affiliation, according to the Liberty Justice Center.
     “Not coincidentally, high-population counties in Illinois tend to favor Democratic candidates; low-population counties in Illinois tend to favor Republican candidates,” the organization said in a press release.
     From 2004 to 2014 higher-population counties voted 62 percent Democrat while the others voted 54 percent Republican, says the lawsuit.
     Huebert said the state legislature “passed this scheme along party lines.”
     The law was signed by former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn right before he turned the job over to Republican Bruce Rauner.
     “It’s hard to believe that’s an accident,” Huebert said. Democrats “rigged the system to keep themselves in power.”
     According to the complaint the law violates the 14th Amendment by giving some citizens a different opportunity to vote than others.
     Huebert says while the federal court can’t change the law, it can rule that it is unconstitutional and grant a preliminary injunction against the Illinois State Board of Elections removing voter registration at the polls in the upcoming November election.
     “We just administer the laws,” Jim Tenuto, the board’s Assistant Executive Director, told Courthouse News after receiving the complaint. “Whatever the court decides we’ll follow.”
     Over the past two weeks courts across the country have struck down restrictive Voter Identification and proof-of-citizenship laws that disproportionately affected black and Hispanic voters in Texas, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Kansas, and Native American voters in North Dakota.
     The plaintiffs, Western Illinois Congressional candidate Patrick Harlan and the Republican Central Committee of downstate Crawford County (population 19,000) just want people “in lower population counties to have the same opportunity to vote as those in higher population counties,” Huebert said.
     “How an election shakes out once you have neutral laws is up to the voters,” Huebert added.

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