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County clerks prepare for Election Day

Same-day voter registration puts strain on some counties in area

Published: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

STERLING – Gearing up for election season at county clerks’ offices around the Sauk Valley is business as usual this year, with just one caveat: For the first time, come November, people will be able to register to vote up until the time polls close on Election Day.

But they can’t go to just any location to register: In Ogle, Lee, and Whiteside counties, would-be voters must do so at the county clerk’s office.

A law, signed by Gov. Pat Quinn this month, officially extends the number of days early voting locations in each county are open through Election Day, Nov. 4.

Both Lee County Clerk Cathy Myers and Ogle County Clerk Becky Huntley said they expected to have at least one additional staffer on hand to help with registration on Election Day, but otherwise didn’t foresee extra costs to their county.

Whiteside County Clerk Dana Nelson said she didn’t plan to have any more workers on staff than usual on Nov. 4

“Democracy works best when everyone has the opportunity to participate,” Gov. Pat Quinn said in a statement released at the end of June. “Instead of turning away eager voters at the ballot box, [the law] will make sure more Illinois residents have a chance to have their voices heard. By removing barriers to vote, we can ensure a government of the people and for the people.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, with the implementation of the law, Illinois joins a group of 11 other states and Washington, District of Columbia, that allow same-day voter registration.

Illinois’ law applies only to this November’s election, although it could be extended.

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