Thursday, March 10, 2005

College voter registration moves forward

Ultimately, whenever you deal with the government (registering for the draft, signing up for classes at a public university or at a public high school, changing your address with the post office, getting a drivers' license), you should get registered to vote at your current address. Mandatory. Today, the Illinois General Assembly took a step in that direction.

Representative Linda Chapa LaVia (D-Aurora) has been working on college voter registration since 2003. I drafted up HB 4141 for her last session, which got rolled into an omnibus elections bill SB 955, which (long-time readers might recall) included provisions to put Bush on the ballot, give voters a 14-day grace period to register and lots of other improvements. That omnibus bill wasn't called in the Senate, so those provisions (like college voter registration) which were not also in separate bills died.

This year we have been working on HB 715. Today the bill was voted out of committee, as amended. The amendment is one of those ways that it is clear the Speaker runs the House. I had been working on a compromise amendment with the lobbyists from the colleges to figure out how to make this work. We had reached a tentative agreement, but then the Speaker's staff decided they'd prefer the language from last session in SB 955. So that language was inserted into the bill, and the bill sailed out with Republican votes. It's nice when the Speaker likes your bill. . . not so nice when he doesn't. And here's my minor quibble with the new language that bloggers might enjoy. The amendment reads:

(10 ILCS 5/1A-30 new)
Sec. 1A-30. College voter outreach. Each public
institution of higher learning in Illinois must make available
on its World Wide Web site a downloadable, printable voter
registration form that complies with the requirements in
subsection (d) of Section 1A-16 for the State Board of
Elections' voter registration form.

World Wide Web site?

Who calls it that?

That's so 1995!

Otherwise, it's a solid amendment. I'm going to try to get a technical amendment to change "World Wide Web site" to "internet site." Maybe the Cross bloggers can help me convince Rob Uhe (Speaker Madigan's legal go-to guy, formally the Parliamentarian of the House and the Head, I think, of the Speaker's Technical Review staff) to change it. . . .

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