Monday, September 19, 2005

It Got My Vote

This past session, we passed a package of what I consider to be some of the most substantive and comprehensive changes to Illinois election law ever. Yet for some reason, the press and public have failed to pay adequate attention to the new laws. Running against that tide is today's State Journal Register, which has an article today on the fact that Illinois will now allow for early voting.

Unlike absentee voting, which required you to state that you would be unavailable to cast your ballot on election day, we have now made it easier for more people to take part in the electoral process. And with what I consider to be good anti-fraud measures contained in the law, I don't know how this could be anything but a good thing.

The new law also reduces the signatures needed to run for Mayor in Chicago by 50% to 12,500, (which I still think is too high), allows for statewide registration by deputy registrars, gives time off work for election judges, and does a host of other good things.

There are a couple of provisions in there which I will admit to still being at a loss about why they were included, but cynicism aside, the new law is a good step in the right direction.


At September 19, 2005 at 3:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that anything that ups the turnout is a good idea. What is funny is how Republicans in Illinois usually assume that higher turnout is bad for them. While I realize that we are a *blue* state, you would think that if you have a message that connects with people, your view on vote turnout would be the more, the merrier. Just my thoughts.

At September 19, 2005 at 8:43 PM, Blogger ndpotus said...

As a college student living in a college town (Normal, IL) I am concerned that the McLean County Clerk will not be helpful in assisting students with early voting. That is why I am glad to say that as a College Democrat and a Student Senator, I am going to sponsor legislation in our student assembly requesting early voting and a precinct on campus to assist students.

At September 19, 2005 at 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We don't really have that problem in Champaign. Something like this is going to be a great help in generating big turnout numbers.

At September 19, 2005 at 10:17 PM, Blogger respectful said...

One provision allows poll watchers to be registered voters from anywhere in the state, rather than from only the county in which they are working. A suspicious Republican might think this provision is designed so Chicago Dem "volunteers" can be shipped out into the collar counties to work on election day.

At September 19, 2005 at 10:23 PM, Blogger respectful said...

Does early voting have no drawbacks? As more and more voters cast ballots weeks before election day, they'll vote before last-minute information comes out, such as GW's old DUI conviction. They'll vote prior to some of the debates. Fewer and fewer Americans will participate in one of the few civic rituals of going to the polling place on election day where they see their neighbors.

I doubt that John believes some enterprising precinct captains won't abuse early voting, by driving reluctant residents to the early voting location and sticking a palm card in their hand.

At September 19, 2005 at 11:38 PM, Blogger Hon. John Fritchey said...

Actually, I don't think that the likelihood of wrongdoing is any higher (or lower) for early voting than it is for absentee voting.

As far as allowing pollwatchers to come from anywhere in the state, you are right that it will likely help Dems statewide, but at the same time, it may aid Republicans trying to man precincts in Chicago municipal elections.

As far as not knowing about last minute facts, keep in mind that these types of things are usually leaked out late in the campaign as part of a negative campaign strategy, early voting simply means that the people that delve into this type of ambush campaigning will have to revise their approach as to how and when to use their ammunition.

At the end of the day, I think that the net result will be to boost turnout, which I say is a good thing. I also think that the devil may be in the details and that there still may be more to this bill than meets the eye.

At September 20, 2005 at 12:06 PM, Anonymous Big Debbie said...

We don't really have that problem in Champaign.

Ha, ha ha. Mark Shelden is the worst County Clerk in Illinois when it comes to helping students on campus vote, and he runs republican elections out of the county clerk's office, as was proven in 2004 (he was caught faxing media buys for republicans from the county fax machine in his office).

I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

At September 21, 2005 at 10:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Rep. Fritchey for acknowledging that HB 1968 was signed into law. When I read that the Governor had signed it in August, I was surprised that no media outlets had picked up on it.

And ndpotus...everyone is entitled to vote early, as long as they are registered, before the close of registration, in that jurisdiction. Also, all public universities are now required to post a downloadable, printable voter registration form on their websites, and include voter registration information and forms in any mailing of registration materials mailed to a student with an Illinois address.

At September 23, 2005 at 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. Fritchey:

How could any plausible candidate for mayor not be capable of getting 12.5K Chicagoans of signing a petition? If someone can't get 12.5K signatures, how can he reasonably expect to get as many votes?


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