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High school students now receive two hours off to vote in Illinois elections

Effective June 1 this summer, Illinois high school students who are eligible to vote can take an excused absence from school to perform their civic duty.

The new law, signed by Governor JB Pritzker on Wednesday, allows students who are 18 years of age or older to leave school for up to two hours on the day of the election or 15 days prior to cast their ballot in a primary, general, special, or any election in Illinois at which propositions are submitted to a popular vote in the state.

Now, high school students who want to participate in the voting process no longer have to mail-in votes, request permission to leave close campuses, attempt to rush to their polling during a short lunch period or after school or miss a team practice if they are an athlete.

Given the effective date, students will not be able to take part in the upcoming primaries on March 17. However, they will be able to take full advantage of the new measure in November's general election.

"With this new law, our voting-eligible young people will have the freedom to fit voting into their school day without fear of repercussion for engaging in the very civic education we should all be proud to encourage," said Governor Pritzker in an statement after signing in the new law. "The young people who advocated for this legislation recognized how important it is not only to vote, but to make the act of voting as accessible for all who can vote as possible."

The legislation gives school administrators the option to enforce specific hours when voters may leave school grounds.

The measure passed 74-40 in the House and 40-10 in the Senate.

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