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Election Schock: Special Election Triggers Early Onset Of New Law

Aaron Schock
Aaron Schock

Former Peoria Republican Congressman Aaron Schock's fall from political grace set in motion an unexpected special election, and that has unexpected consequences for county clerks.

On July 7, primary voters in the 18th Congressional district will get their first crack at choosing who'll represent them in D.C., following Aaron Schock's resignation.

Anyone who forgot to register to vote beforehand will be able to do it that day. That's thanks to a law that was intended to be in place for the first time for next year's elections. McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael and others had asked legislators to delay the law until then. It never happened.

"Of course no one expected this bill to apply; no one knew about the special election. I'm not surprised, and I'm really disappointed that our legislators didn't take the time to amend this," she said. "Apparently they were too busy figuring out what our state vegetable was going to be, and state pet. I don't know. I know they have our hands full. But this is costing counties a fortune and as everybody knows our state is broke."

Michael says the special election will cost her county an extra $300,000 in part because of the law mandating voters be able to register on July 7th, the primary election date. She says the new registration law will require additional training. "We don't buy the argument. We think they have plenty of time and we think they have adequate resources to do the things we asked of them," House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie said. "If we began saying 'oh yeah, you don't have to do it now,' sometimes things never get done."

Despite McLean County Clerk Michael's disappointment, she says she'll be prepared to comply. Voter turnout is already expected to be low, so Michael says the same-day registration requirement could be helpful in serving as a test-run before a presidential election cycle.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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