Registration Issues

Voter registration laws in Illinois are among the best in the country. However, registering to vote is a technical process with many logistical steps. Sometimes things go wrong. A voter often has no idea that he or she has a registration issue until they have arrived at their polling place. In 2016, many voters across Illinois utilized Election Day registration, a critical tool that reduces registration problems at the polls.

Issues we observed along the way

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Significant Registration Issues

General registration and information needs

151 total issues

Why does this matter?

Voters often need to register at the polls for a variety of reasons using Election Day Registration (EDR). Some voters may have been removed from the rolls incorrectly, while others may have moved recently and not updated their registration.

Real Stories (1/2)

Voter moved a year ago. No longer on voter registration rolls. Needs to use EDR. Provided closest polling location as well as information needed to register to vote. Issue resolved.

Real Stories (2/2)

The caller lives in Illinois, but has a Virginia driver’s license and a passport containing a Michigan [address.] She asked if she could still vote in Illinois. I [the hotline volunteer] told her that because she lives in Cook County, the polling location in her building will permit Election Day Registration. She will bring her passport, as well as the rental agreement for her apartment.

A look at the data

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Unclear steps to confirm registration status

35 total issues

Why does this matter?

Registered voters don’t always know if they’re registered to vote or not, so many of them call in and check just to make sure. Even eligible voters who are not yet registered in Illinois can still register at their polling place and cast a ballot using Election Day Registration (EDR).

Real Stories (1/2)

Wanted to know where his polling place is. Is a college student and provided him info about where to go in Champaign at UIUC. He thinks he is registered in CA so he needed to do same-day voter registration. A search in Illinois’ registration lookup website did not have a status for him but provided information about where he could go in Champaign.

Real Stories (2/2)

Calling on behalf of husband. Husband is still waiting for voter registration card to arrive, even though he registered 2 months ago. Checked husband’s registration status and he shows up as “pending.” Provided caller with Cook County clerk phone number.

A look at the data

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Incorrect status on voter rolls

17 total issues

Why does this matter?

Because of a variety of factors, including clerical and technical errors, some voters may not appear on the rolls even though they had completed the registration process. In Illinois, these problems can be corrected through Election Day registration, but these problems can still cause delays at the polls.

Real Stories (1/2)

The caller’s daughter attempted to vote this morning where she voted in the primary, but did not appear on the rolls. I gave her the EDR protocol.

Real Stories (2/2)

Moved from a different address in Chicago in May. Poll worker will not allow her to update registration. Will only allow her to cast a provisional ballot. Worked out issue over the phone, the poll worker ended up allowing her to vote.

A look at the data

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Eligible but could not find a way to vote

8 total issues

Why does this matter?

Election laws vary from state to state. Voters who move or are living away from their permanent residence may not know which laws and procedures to follow and need instructions to vote. In some situations, voters are unable to vote if they cannot take the necessary steps by Election Day.

Real Stories (1/2)

Son in college in Oklahoma – didn’t preregister in Oklahoma. Didn’t request absentee ballot by 11/3 in Illinois. Couldn’t figure out any way for him to vote.

Real Stories (2/2)

Registered in Belleville before left to go to college. Then registered in college. Didn’t know it had bearing on where she got to vote. In St. Louis, Missouri. No way to get back to Illinois to vote.

A look at the data

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