New Illinois law OKs early voting

| Thursday, September 01, 2005

New rules in Illinois allow voters to cast their ballots in person before Election Day and even on Saturdays and Sunday, which should make it easier for truckers to participate in elections.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill into law last week that makes it easier to vote prior to Election Day. It is also intended to get more citizens registered.

Currently, Illinois law allows people to vote absentee by mail only if they have a good reason for not being available on Election Day. That provision is still in place, but voters can cast their ballots in person – without an excuse – under the new early voting law.

The early voting period will start 22 days prior to an election and continue until the Thursday before Election Day, which is Nov. 3 this year.

Because of existing Illinois law that permits voter registrations up to 14 days before an election, the new rule creates a nine-day window of time during which a person could register and vote on the same day, The News-Gazette in Champaign-Urbana reported.

The new law, previously HB1968, also allows voters to register by mail and permits state lawmakers to register voters at their district offices.

In addition, employers with at least 25 workers would have to grant an employee up to two hours of paid time off if their work schedule would prevent them from voting on Election Day.

It also requires publication of a voter’s guide on statewide candidates, which must be made available on the Internet. For information on how to vote early in Illinois, contact the Board of Elections at (217) 782-4141 or visit www.elections.state.il.us and click on “Voting Information” on the left-hand side of the Web page.

Illinois is one of more than 30 states that offer some type of early voting.

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