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Federal judge blocks election day voter registration in Illinois

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website] granted [opinion, PDF] a motion on Tuesday blocking Illinois from allowing voter registration on Election Day in the state's most populated counties. The state's same-day voter registration program was implemented in 2015 and offered to counties with populations over 100,000. The Chicago-based Liberty Justice Center [advocacy website], filed the lawsuit to halt the program, claiming it gave an unfair advantage to Democratic candidates, who are traditionally populated in urban, highly-populated counties. The court ruled [Reuters report] that if Illinois wants to have a same-day voter registration program, it must be state-wide to be fair. "The application of this legislation favors the urban citizen and dilutes the vote of the rural citizen," Judge Samuel Der-Teghiayan wrote in the opinion. "The Supreme Court has made it clear that legislation cannot 'restrict the political participation of some in order to enhance the relative influence of others.'" The ruling placed an injunction on the program, and if the injunction is not lifted, then the latest that Illinois voters could register online for the presidential election is October 23.

Voting issues have become especially contentious as the presidential election approaches. Last week the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down [JURIST report] a procedure implemented by the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted that effectively eliminated inactive voters from registration rolls if they failed to respond to letters requesting confirmation of their status and addresses. Earlier this month the Missouri legislature overrode [JURIST report] vetoes by Governor Jay Nixon to approve two bills, one requiring voter ID and the other removing the need to renew permits in order to carry a concealed weapon. Last month an Oklahoma court upheld [JURIST report] a controversial voter ID law allowing the law to be in place while early voting commenced for a primary run-off. In July voter restrictions were overturned in North Carolina, Kansas and Wisconsin [JURIST reports].

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