Attorney Dan Johnson on his blog, Progressive Advocacy, writes:
On July 6, Governor Pat Quinn signed into law SB 3722 (passed with exclusively Democratic votes) that contains two innovative and exciting provisions that will lead to more citizens voting this November. The first extends the period of time when citizens can register to vote and update their address until the Saturday before the election….I suspect more than 25,000 will be able to vote — who otherwise would have been turned away from their ballots because of government-imposed administrative deadlines — in November of 2012.
The second provision of the new law requires election authorities to offer early voting on the college campuses of the major public universities in the state. This requirement will ensure that college students (who often don’t have a car) won’t have to make their way to the obscure office of the county clerk off-campus in order to cast an early ballot, but instead will be able to go to a high-traffic area and cast their ballot during the few weeks before the election when early voting is offered.
Things couldn’t be more different in Florida. In May 2011, when they passed HB 1355, Republican lawmakers cracked down on voter registration drives, cut the days of early voting (and still prohibit it on college campuses), and made it more difficult for students and other transient populations to change their address and cast a regular ballot. And these actions preceded and were independent of Governor Scott asking his Secretary of State to strip eligible citizens of their voting rights through his bogus, systematic purge of the voter rolls.
While Illinois stands as a model for other states that want to expand the franchise, Florida returns to the days of Jim Crow, erecting barriers to prevent citizens from participating in the political process.