Make Election Day Registration permanent
By Hanna Hesslau
Class of 2017, College of Business Administration
Despite the work of many organizations to increase participation in the election, just 36.4 percent of registered voters in Chicago turned out to vote and only about 4.2 percent of those voters were between the ages of 18 and 24. This means that the issues we care about the most as students may not be on the agenda for the newest governor or elected officials.
We know that one of the biggest barriers to young people voting is a lack of knowledge about how and when to register. As a student at UIC, I have experienced this first hand. I was registered back at my hometown in the suburbs, and I was lucky enough to know about early voting. Many students don’t, though, and get turned away when they try to vote on election day in Chicago.
Fortunately, Election Day Registration is a simple solution to increasing young voter turnout. Thousands of Illinois voters were able to vote thanks to the Election Day Registration pilot this November. Many voters were already registered and simply needed to update their address. Some who took advantage of this option were the students I met who registered at their parents’ home in the suburbs but actually lived at an apartment in the city.
By making the Election Day Registration pilot permanent and available at all polling places, more young voters will be able to update their registration and vote on Election Day.
We ask the Illinois legislature to make Election Day Registration permanent and available at all polling locations now so that it is available for the spring municipal elections and make our voices heard in this democracy.