Same-day voter registration temporarily reinstated in Illinois

(Reuters) - An Illinois law allowing voters in highly populated areas to register to vote at polling places on election day was reinstated on Tuesday by a federal court, pending an appeal of a ruling declaring the statute unfair to people in smaller communities.

The state is seeking to overturn a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan, which found that the law discriminates against voters in less-populated counties.

The law, passed in late 2014 by the Democratic-led legislature and signed into law in early 2015 by former Democratic Governor Pat Quinn, allowed election day voter registration for the first time, including at polling places.

But the section of the law regarding polling place registration pertained only to counties with populations of 100,000 or more.

The conservative Liberty Justice Center, of Chicago, filed a lawsuit in August, saying the law was discriminatory. Der-Yeghiayan agreed, writing that the law provided an advantage to urban voters over their rural counterparts.

The state of Illinois appealed the ruling last month, and in their order issued Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit granted the state’s request to stay the order until the appeal was adjudicated, court records show.

U.S. voters will go to the polls to choose a president, Congressional representatives and other officials on Nov. 8. On Tuesday, the appellate court ordered attorneys on both sides to say by Thursday whether they would like the appeals process to be sped up due to the proximity of the election.

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Lisa Shumaker