Come January 1, 2014, a new group of voters will exist in Illinois: 17-year-olds.
A new law that permits 17-year-olds to participate in Illinois primary elections, as long as they will be 18 by the November general election, takes effect in the New Year. The law is designed to ensure that someone who can vote in the November general election can have a say by voting in the primaries for who the candidates will be.
According to the Chicago Board of Elections, 17-year-olds in the city can begin registering starting on January 1, and must register by February 18 to be eligible to vote in the March 18 primary.
Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen says registration forms will be available in the city's more than 150 public and private high schools when classes resume January 6.
In cooperation with civic groups such as the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote, the goal is to register at least 25,000 teens, more than half of those believed to be eligible.
In Chicago alone, there are more than 40,000 students in public, Archdiocese and independent high schools who are ages 17 and 18.
The law, signed by Gov. Quinn in July, means Illinois joins nearly 20 states that allow 17-year-olds to vote in one way or another.