Illinois is a much easier place to vote than it was a couple of decades ago. That's according to a study that shows big changes with regard to voting across the country in both directions.
Illinois tied for 12th with Minnesota among U.S. states in 2016 according to the study's "Cost of Voting Index." That's up 21 places from the 1996 presidential election.
Dr. Scot Schraufnagel is the lead author of the study. He's also chair of the political science department at Northern Illinois University.
He said one of the primary factors in the change was the 2014 enactment of grace period registration.
"A law," he said, "that allows the counties to accept voter registration at the polling place up to election day. And that change, in and of itself, has made Illinois much easier to vote [in] than other states."
But a number of states also went the other way.
"Prior to 2008, no states had voter registration drive restrictions," he said. "But now, several states have adopted this."
Schraufnagel said that seems to have happened in reaction to the successful efforts of the Obama presidential campaign. He said that's also true for voter ID laws, despite a lack of evidence that they're needed. He says such laws sometimes disenfranchise legal voters. So a measure touted as a way to combat fraud could lead instead to what some might consider a fraudulent election.
Oregon was no. 1 in the study, thanks to mail-in voting and automatic registration. Mississippi was dead last, due to registration deadlines and strict voter ID laws.
Schraufnagel said, overall, the United States has gone from the forefront to well behind other countries in ease of voting.
You can find some of the study's finding's highlighted in graphic form in an article from the NIU Newsroom.