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Will, Grundy county clerks prepare

Published: Sunday, July 6, 2014 10:53 p.m. CST

JOLIET – Will County Clerk Nancy Schultz Voots said she’s concerned about new legislation that requires same-day registration on Election Day, but she’s still working out the details.

The measure in question, House Bill 105, was signed last week by Gov. Pat Quinn. It allows for same-day voter registration at limited locations, and extended voting hours, during Election Day in November.

The law also removes the photo identification requirement for in-person early voting.

It’s the logistics – and new costs – that worries her, she said.

“We’re right in the middle of our budget process right now, and there’s no funding,” she said, noting new equipment alone could cost the county about $35,000.

Schultz Voots already has briefed the county’s finance department and board members about the law’s impact on the budget “so there’s no surprises.”

Schultz Voots said the county will have to find money to establish additional polling places in Will County – a requirement under the new law for counties with larger populations.

She said she’s in talks with the Joliet Park District, the city of Naperville and Bolingbrook on establishing new locations.

Voters can register on Election Day only at permanent polling places or the county clerk’s office, but not at temporary ones – a move aimed to cut back on potential fraud, she said.

Schultz Voots said she’s also concerned about training additional staff ahead of the November election, and having staff members man the polls for longer evening hours.

The new law only applies to the upcoming November election, but could be extended depending on how this year goes. Despite Schultz Voots’ concerns, the new law could increase voter turnout – which is a good thing, she said.

In Grundy County, County Clerk Lana Phillips expects a busier-than-usual Election Day this year.

“We are already very busy on Election Day,” Phillips said. “It’s going to be a bit of a strain, but as always, when the Legislature gives us additional duties, we do our best to make sure things run smoothly.”

Like grace period voting, Phillips said, ballots cast under the new format will be held for a period of time while staff can verify the voter isn’t registered elsewhere or voted somewhere else.

Phillips said she hopes voters strive to register well ahead of Election Day, with several options available. But if they do wait until the last minute, have some patience, she said.

“I hope voters understand and realize they may not get in and out of the polls as quickly as if they were a registered voter,” Phillips said. “I would ask them to exercise patience.”

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