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Our View: Take steps to encourage more voting

Published: Friday, July 4, 2014 10:47 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 4, 2014 11:31 p.m. CDT

Voting is the most basic principle of democracy.

Yet, very few people exercise their right to vote. A lot of it is indifference, but some of it is the obstacles we place in front of people to be able to vote.

So, we were pleased to see both chambers of the Illinois Legislature pass a bill before the recent session ended that would offer fewer restrictions for casting a ballot this November. Gov. Pat Quinn signed HB105 into law Tuesday.

A cynic would suggest these reforms are nothing more than an attempt by Democrats to bring people more likely to vote Democratic to the polls. There probably is some truth to that, but what’s wrong with getting more people involved in the process? And what’s stopping them from voting Republican?

This law would allow Election Day registration and would extend the early voting period by a day, to the Sunday before the election. It also would let Illinois’ public universities set up a campus location for in-person absentee voting on Election Day. We support all of these actions.

We’re wary of another provision that removes the photo identification requirement for in-person early voting, but are open to testing it as long as officials watch out for potential voter fraud and an evaluation is done after the November election.

Ten states and Washington, D.C., already allow same-day voter registration, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Sponsors of Illinois’ bill said they’d seek to expand the law beyond November, if the process moves smoothly.

This legislation follows allowing 17-year-olds to vote in March’s primary, if they were going to turn 18 before the November general election.

We have an open mind when it comes to removing obstacles from allowing people to vote. We favor these changes for November’s election. If all goes well, we hope Illinois lawmakers consider making these changes permanent.

It would be nice if our elected officials spent less time making everything a partisan issue and more time doing what’s right for Illinois residents and democracy. This arguing over rules allowed to help more people vote is just the latest example.

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