CHICAGO - The Liberty Justice Center in Chicago has announced a lawsuit against the Illinois State Board of Elections that seeks to challenge the Illinois Election Day voter registration law.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The plaintiffs include Patrick Harlan, a Republican candidate for Congress in the state's 17th District and the Crawford County Republican Party.
The lawsuit, announced Aug. 4, contends that because the law allows in-precinct voter registration on Election Day in counties with more than 100,000 residents, it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment by excluding from the law counties with fewer than 100,000 residents.
Illinois has 20 counties with a population of 100,000 or more out of 102 counties.
“We’re challenging Illinois’ Election Day voter registration law because it guarantees people in some parts of the state better opportunities to vote than it guarantees people in other parts of the state,” Jacob Huebert, senior attorney with the Liberty Justice Center, told the Record.
The voter registration law went into effect in 2014.
“The law appears to be created to give Democratic Party candidates an advantage over Republican Party candidates because it gives better registration opportunities to people who live in high-population counties, which tend to favor Democratic candidates, than it gives to people who live in lower-population counties, which tend to favor Republican candidates,” Huebert said.
Huebert said Crawford County has about 19,000 residents and that he and the Crawford County Republican Party to ensure that voters there have the same opportunities to vote as those in higher population counties.
On Aug. 4, Huebert, who is representing the Liberty Justice Center, announced the lawsuit via a YouTube video. In that video, he said that the Election Day voter registration law was unconstitutional and also that it was unfair to candidates.
“Not coincidentally, every legislator who voted for this scheme was a Democrat, and every legislator who voted against it was a Republican,” Huebert said.
He said in the announcement that, by passing the law, Democrats tilted the playing field to favor candidates like them.
“Because implementing Election Day registration at the polls is costly, very few of these lower-population counties will provide it if they don’t have to,” Huebert said.
He said the Liberty Justice Center is asking a federal court to direct the Illinois State Board of Elections to prevent implementation of Election Day registration at polling places for the November election.
“But, the Illinois General Assembly could also fix the law’s unfairness by making Election Day registration available at polling places statewide,” Huebert said.