Chicago Lawyers’ Committee Testimony Results in Historic Passing of Voting Reform Package

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE     

SPRINGFIELD, IL (June 2, 2014) — A groundbreaking bill that will increase voter access to registration and polling passed in the Illinois legislature last week. On Friday, May 30, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Staff Attorney Marissa Liebling was among a coalition of voting rights experts and grassroots groups that testified in support of HB105 – the historic legislation will make it easier for Illinoisans to vote and register to vote. (This testimony will be available upon request for the media or other interested groups).

Now, eligible Illinoisans will be able to register or update their voter registration and then vote on Election Day. HB105 extends Grace Period Registration and voting which had previously ended on the Saturday before Election Day. Under the new bill, registration and changes of addresses may now be processed in the office of the County Clerk up to and including Election Day for the 2014 November General Election only. After the November General Election this issue will likely be reviewed for consideration of making the provision permanent.

Same Day Registration was pushed into the state agenda this session through the efforts of the Just Democracy campaign, a diverse coalition devoted to increasing electoral access for those in marginalized communities. Just Democracy—which is comprised of Asian Americans Advancing Justice; the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law; Chicago Votes; Common Cause Illinois; the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; and the Illinois Public Interest Research Group; delivered over 3,500 letters, petition signatures, comment cards, and letters in support of the measure to legislators.

 “We must create a system in which every voter that is eligible to vote is casting their ballot-- to ensure we are electing politicians that are serving the needs of everyone,” said Brian Gladstein, Director of Programs and Strategy at Common Cause Illinois.

 “18,639 ballots were rejected in the 2012 election because the voters were not properly registered, or registered in the wrong jurisdictions or precincts. Countless first time voters were turned away at the polls,” said Rebecca Reynolds, Executive Director of Chicago Votes, an organization dedicated to engaging young people in the political process. “Registration deadlines disproportionately disenfranchise mobile populations—traditionally, college students, single moms, and low-income communities of color.”

Just Democracy was also instrumental in pushing the bill creating Online Voter registration through the legislature last year, and is helping to oversee its implementation by July 2014. For more information about the Just Democracy campaign, please visit www.justdemocracyillinois.org.

Contact:        

Marisa Liebling, Staff Attorney

Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights’ Voting Rights Project

312-630-9744

mliebing@clccrul.org              

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Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. protects and promotes civil rights by bringing the strength and prestige of the private bar to bear on the problems of poverty and discrimination. Founded in 1969, the Committee champions equal justice and community development for underrepresented people by partnering with volunteer lawyers to provide litigation and transactional representation. For more information on the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee, visit www.clccrul.org