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Judge Changes Election-Day Voter Registration

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A federal judge has blocked an Illinois law that had been aimed at making it easier to vote this fall.

The law required the state’s biggest cities and counties to let citizens register to vote on election day and at their local polling place. It did not impose the same requirement on smaller election authorities.

“That’s not fair," says Jacob Huebert. He's with the conservative Liberty Justice Center, which sued over the law. “That’s giving an opportunity — an important opportunity — to people in high-population counties that it doesn’t give to people in low-population counties."

Federal Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan agreed. He wrote that while it was desirable to open up the voting process to more people, such a law must apply equally to all citizens of Illinois.

Ed Yohnka, however, with the ACLU of Illinois, says the ruling could disenfranchise many people this fall.

“With just a little over a month to go, before one of the major and hotly contested elections of our time, you have essentially the rules being changed about how people vote," he said.

Critics say the law was designed to help Democrats. But supporters say more than 100,000 Illinoisans took advantage of same-day registration at the primary election — including both Democrats and Republicans.

A spokeswoman for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says the state has filed notice it will appeal the ruling.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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