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A winner in every election cycle: Confusion over registration

Do voters have a firm grasp of registration rules?

Maybe not.

In the 2012 election, provisional ballots cast by 30,000 Illinoisans were rejected. That’s a pretty good indication that many people who think they are properly registered really aren’t.

Two common reasons for those rejections: 1) The voter thought he or she was registered, but really wasn’t, and 2) The voter was registered, but not in the precinct where she or he tried to cast a ballot.

Another indication not everyone understands their registration status: People who circulate petitions find that up to 50 percent of the people who scrawl their names on them are not registered, according to Cook County Clerk David Orr.

In fact, a surprising number of people think they are registered just because they were registered in the past, even though they have moved since then, Orr says. They don’t understand if you move from one election jurisdiction to another, say from Evanston to Rogers Park, you have to re-register. At least if you want your vote to count.

Registering will get easier on July 1 in Illinois, when people who have a valid driver’s license or state ID will be able to register via tablet, smart phone or desktop computer.

It’s expected there will be an attempt to draw up new voter legislation before the end of the legislative session, Orr said. Depending on what happens, a lot of people could be affected.

“We estimate 25 percent of Illinoisans are eligible [to vote], but [are] not registered,” he said.