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County Clerk Defends Denying Voting to ‘Grace Period’ Registrants

Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten is defending his office’s decision to require some people to cast a ballot by mail when they register to vote during Illinois’ grace period.

Hulten’s comments come after a friend of a campaign volunteer for Democratic opponent Charlie Smyth, who had recently moved to the area, was required to wait on voting when registering at the clerk’s office Wednesday.  

David Collier was told by Hulten’s staff he could register, but couldn’t cast his ballot on the spot.

"Because people were waiting that long, they needed to verify their addresses, and make sure they did the mail-in vote," he said.  "It had to go through the post office."

Smyth says the policy is perfectly legal, but notes about 40 Illinois counties, including Macon and Piatt, are allowing a same-day vote.

"You're coming in, you're registering to vote with the same ID, same proof of address, that you would do for in-person registration," he said.  To me, what's it's doing is adding an additional hurdle for people who want to vote."

The Republican Hulten says those coming into his office during the grace period leading up to the election should go through the same process as everyone else.

"My opinion, as the election authority, is just because someone has waited until the last possible moment to register to vote doesn't mean we can skip the registration process," he said.  "So mail an absentee ballot, and they vote by mail."

Hulten says it’s strange that this issue is only being brought up now, since he started this policy last year.   He notes all ballots received by mail that are postmarked by Election Day will be counted, along with provisional ballots.

Categories: Government, Politics