Illinois law could cause big delays on election day

Many people plan to vote this November, but in Illinois casting your ballot could be more difficult.

Illinois lawmakers had approved same-day registration and voting, but they did not approve the funds to pay for the changes.

Counties are already cash strapped from the budget impasse, and now the law will cost time and money during the next general election.

Many new students come to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale ready to hit the classroom, but many don’t come registered to vote. Junior Taelor O’Bannon says she took care of that right on campus.

"I registered to vote here in Carbondale my sophomore year," O’Bannon said.

You can now register and vote all in the same day in Illinois. But what was meant to bring voters in is now causing big delays.

"In the primary election, the judges that were there told me they finished the last voter at about 8:30. So, people who were there in line at 7 when the poll closed still had to wait about an hour and a half," said Jackson County Clerk Larry Reinhardt.

Reinhardt says their delays are nothing compared to the six-plus hour wait times in Chicago and highly populated counties. He says while those counties will pay hundreds of thousands for voter registration equipment, they’ll only pay $1,000 to $2,000.

He says the budget impasse has the county strapped for cash, but they’re hoping that adding staff and equipment helps cut down on wait times at the polls. But with a 20 percent voter registration turnover rate every other year, he says turnout will only go up from the primaries.

O’Bannon says long lines may stop some students from voting, but not her.

"I think wherever you go, the line is going to be long. So why go drive five miles away when I can vote here on campus?" O’Bannon said.

She says it’s worth the wait to cast her ballot.

Early voting begins 30 days before the election in Illinois. You can register to vote now through your county clerk. Those with a valid Illinois driver’s license can register online here.

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