If the polls seem more crowded and the voting lines longer next
year, it'll likely be because of the National Voter Registration
And if the the voting goes smoothly and all the voters are
properly registered, it'll likely be because of your local election
For three days last week, Illinois election officials from
around the state met at the Holiday Inn in Collinsville to talk
about how they'll get new voters registered under the new National
Voter Registration Act.
It allows people to register by mail, or when they get a
driver's license or do business with other state agencies.
So far, Illinois hasn't complied by passing the necessary
accompanying state law. But election officials are hopeful the
Legislature will act in time for the new rules to go into effect
The East St. Louis Election Board hosted last week's state
"It's a concern as to what will come out of the Legislature,
how state legislation will affect implementation of the Act," said
James Lewis, East St. Louis election director and an organizer of
the event. Until the Legislature acts, "we're not exactly sure
what the requirements will be."
Still, the election officials found plenty to talk about
regarding how they'll get the job done. How will election
officials prevent vote fraud? How will they identify from mail
registration the gender of voters with names such as Jonnie or
Jeri? How will election officials protect the confidentiality of
people who are using various state welfare agencies?
"We hope the state Legislature will address some of those
concerns," Lewis said. "You don't want to inconvenience the voters,
but you do want a means of verifying and validating " the
applications, Lewis said.
Despite the potential pitfalls, Lewis and the other election
officials expressed enthusiasm for the purpose of the law.
Arnette R. Hubbard, a Chicago election board commissioner and
the president of The Association of Election Commission Officials
of Illinois, explained: "The public will be served."
"There will be many more opportunities for people to register
and vote,' she said. "We have to keep selling and promoting
Elsie Janson, executive director of the Rockford election
board, agreed about the importance of the registration law.
"It'll mean a little more work and expense," particularly
postage, she said, "but it will increase registration. I hope it
"In a few years, we'll forget we every worried about it. …