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Illinois citizens will have more voting opportunities, thanks to new law

SPRINGFIELD – A new law will make it more convenient for citizens to vote in the upcoming general election by expanding opportunities to vote early and to vote by mail.

The measure also creates a one-year pilot program that allows grace period voting on Election Day.

“Voting is a right and a vital part of our country’s social and political fabric,” said state Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, who sponsored the new law. “To encourage people to participate, we should be doing everything we can to make it easier to vote without weakening the integrity of the voting system.”

Harmon said he’s been supporting various measures to bring Illinois’ voter registration laws “into the 21st century.” Last year he supported a law allowing citizens to register to vote online. That service is now available at https://ova.elections.il.gov/.

The measure signed into law by the governor last month makes many small but substantial changes to Illinois election law, Harmon said, including:

• Expanding permanent early voting sites to all counties with more than 100,000 residents

• Requiring local election authorities to place voting centers on all public university campuses

• Expanding vote-by-mail from 40 days before the election to 90 days before the election

It also creates a Voter Pilot Program, which does the following:

• Extends early voting to the Sunday before the election

• Requires permanent early voting sites to stay open until 7 p.m. the week before the election

• Extends Sunday voting hours

• Extends grace period voting to Election Day

• Suspends the requirement that voters must show ID to vote early

If the pilot program is successful, the state may make these changes permanent.

The law went into effect immediately and all of its changes should be in place before this year’s election, Harmon said.

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