Thursday, October 6, 2016

Same day voter registration now a back-and-forth politically-partisan battle

We, the electorate of Chicago and the rest of what comprises Illinois, are about to become the political equivalent of a yo-yo.
This 'judge' might make a more sensible ruling than the real ones have done

Up-and-down. Back-and-forth. Some lawyer types may even try to do “tricks” with us for their own legal amusement. While political activist types will guide them for their own partisan benefit.

I’M NOT ABOUT to predict how this will all turn out. For all I know, the situation may change dramatically between the time I write this commentary and the point in time that you actually read it.

What will be the end result on Election Day? You’d have a better chance of placing a safe bet on whether or not the Chicago Cubs can actually make it all the way through the multiple rounds of playoffs to even get to the World Series – let alone win it!

What’s at stake are the laws in Illinois that literally allow someone to just show up at a polling place on Election Day and fill out a form to register to vote that very day.

No more of this having to make sure you’re registered in advance (Tuesday will be the deadline, if the courts ultimately say so) if you have hopes of being able to vote for your pick for president and other political posts.

THE GENERAL RULE of thumb is that Republicans hate these kinds of measures. They spew a batch of rhetoric about how they encourage voter fraud, but the reality is that they don’t want a lot of people casting votes if they’re not the type to be motivated.

I remember back to when I was a Statehouse correspondent in Springfield, one time then-Senate President “Pate” Philip engaged in a rant about “motor voter” (the measure that allowed people to register to vote when they renewed their driver’s licenses).

He said that registering to vote is a simple matter of visiting your neighborhood village clerk, and he didn’t understand why people should feel a need to accommodate those would-be voters who couldn’t be bothered to make that one trip to Village Hall.
What 'tricks' will lawyers try on same-day registration issue?

Actually, I kind of agree with Pate on that point. But the degree to which some people are willing to fight this is appalling. Because it makes it clear they only want certain people to even be able to vote.

THE COURT BATTLE we’re now enduring is one in which a federal court judge from downstate Illinois was found to strike down the same-day voter registration measure, which does not exist in all 102 counties of Illinois.

Many rural counties that operate on a small scale say it would be too much of a hassle for them to have to permit same-day registration. Which was then used as an argument to say that same-day registration discriminates against rural voters!

Earlier this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals based in Chicago overruled that lower-court judge. Meaning that as I write this, you will be able to show up at the polling place on Election Day and cast a ballot that will be counted – even if you’ve been too lazy to register yourself to vote.

But I don’t doubt there will be a back-and-forth as someone is bound to try to find a judge to overturn the appeals court. This has the potential to wind up before the Supreme Court.

THE ONLY TRICK is whether there will be enough time for the high court to rule before Nov. 8, and which side will have the final say. Just like how there always are certain candidates whose ballot spots are being challenged in the courts – and we don’t know until Election Day proper whether a vote for them will be legitimate, or the equivalent of one cast for “Mickey Mouse” or “Lara Croft.”

Because if the “final” say is that same day registration is wrong and the Supreme Court comes in and rules after Election Day that it is proper, the effective result is a victory for those who want to cut off certain types of people from voting.

In my own case, I had to change my voter registration this year. I moved recently, although only to a temporary residence. I expect to be doing another move in the near future.

Because I want to be sure I have a say in this particularly-egregious partisan battle of an election, I didn’t want to take the chance of showing up at a polling place on Election Day – only to be forced to say to future generations that back in the ’16 election cycle, I couldn’t vote! That would make me feel stupid.


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