Judge's ruling reduces Election Day registration in Illinois

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A federal judge has scaled back Election Day voter registration in Illinois, a decision that sides with Republicans who claimed in a lawsuit that it is unconstitutional. (WLS)

A federal judge has scaled back Election Day voter registration for highly populated areas in Illinois, a decision that sides with Republicans who claimed in a lawsuit that last year's extension of same-day registration is unconstitutional.

Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan's move on Tuesday temporarily blocks wider same-day registration lawmakers put into effect in 2015.

The drive to register voters Election Day is in full swing. Volunteers in Daley Plaza hit the streets as part of a coordinated effort across the country for National Voter Registration Day. Those volunteers are focused on reaching out to the fastest-growing segments of the electorate.

"Women, LGBTQ folks, black voters, Hispanic voters, Asian, API voters, and young voters," said Christian Diaz, a volunteer with Chicago Votes.

Voters will still be able to register on Nov. 8, just not at individual polling places.

The state piloted same-day registration in 2014 at some locations. The option was popular, especially in Chicago.

"Over 100,000 people registered to vote on Election Day in precinct in March. And that's a primary. So we're talking about hundreds of thousands of people who might want to do that. And if that's denied, it causes chaos," said Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Republicans filed a lawsuit in August, arguing that voters in less populated areas don't have access to Election Day registration in their precincts like larger counties. They were pleased with the judge's ruling.

"It's only fair that if you offer this in one part of the state, that you offer it in all parts of the state," said Jacob Hubert of Liberty Justice Center.

But state Democrats said this is a thinly-veiled partisan effort that boils down to discrimination.

"The right wing conservatives of this country and in Illinois are doing everything possible to suppress the vote of minorities and women and people who have generally been disenfranchised from being able to vote in elections," said Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-11).

Voting rights advocates are planning to appeal the judge's decision and Attorney General Lisa Madigan said her office is reviewing options for moving forward on the issue.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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