Report voting problems to Attorney General

By Jack Kennedy

Students were justifiably upset with Republican Champaign County Clerk Mark Shelden and his representatives this past Tuesday, who imposed extremely stringent and possibly unlawful requirements on student voters.

Depending on how they registered, certain first-time voters in Champaign County are required by State and Federal laws to show identification prior to voting. Such voters are flagged on the election role with “SHOW ID”. According to State Law (10 ILCS 5/1A?16) and Shelden’s own website, such voters must produce “either (i) a copy of a current and valid photo identification, or (ii) a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the name and address of the voter”.

Almost identical language is found in the Federal HAVA provisions. Most student voters can’t produce “current and valid photo identification” because few students update their Driver’s License or State ID with their college address. But, almost all student voters can produce a “government document” that shows their full name and local address: namely the voter registration card that Shelden’s office mailed to them when they registered.

Apparently Shelden or his staff think that the voter registration cards they mail to students aren’t “documents” or they do not consider the Champaign County Clerk’s office to be part of the County “government”. This is mind boggling: a voter registration card that bears a voter’s name and address with a recent postmark, stamped as “Official Election Mail: Authorized by the U.S. Postal Service” should surely qualify as a “government document”.

Any student who was affected by Shelden’s policy on voter registration cards, or experienced any other problems in exercising their right to vote, should immediately report the circumstances of their case to the Illinois Attorney General’s office, so that they may investigate whether or not the actions of the Champaign County Clerk’s Office were lawful and proper.

Jack Kennedy

Senior in LAS