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Appeals court reopens door to Election Day voter registration in Illinois

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By Rick Pearson | Chicago Tribune

Same-day voter registration in Illinois is back for now after a federal appeals court on Tuesday stayed a judge’s order that blocked the practice for the Nov. 8 election.

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals asked attorneys to file briefs by Thursday on why the case should face an expedited appeal.

On Sept. 29, U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan declined to reconsider his ruling that the same-day registration option benefited Democratic strongholds, like Chicago, and disadvantaged rural regions that may favor Republican candidates. The state law that created Election Day registration applied only to counties of 100,000 people or more with electronic poll books.

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Democratic Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office appealed, asking to delay the ruling until it could be heard by an appeals court. Madigan had argued that removing the same-day registration and voting option so close to the election would unfairly deny some citizens voting rights.

The trial court’s ruling had left same-day registration available at the headquarters of local election authorities but not at individual polling places. The suit was filed by a Republican candidate for Congress in northwestern Illinois who was represented by the legal arm of the Illinois Policy Institute, an ally of much of GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner’s agenda. Rauner previously was a donor to the institute.

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