Even though they'll miss a Jan. 1 deadline to have voter fraud-busting measures in place, Illinois' top election official says current systems safeguard against abuse and authorities are making progress in complying with the federal Help America Vote Act.
The law, passed three years ago after the 2000 presidential-election snafu in Florida, requires states to have comprehensive voter-registration databases working by Sunday to ease authorities' search for duplicate names, removal of outdated registrations and other anti-deception measures.
Illinois is in a precarious position when it comes to complying with election laws, given its history. The adage, "Vote early and often" originated in Chicago, where decades of machine politics managed to get dead people to the polls and spawned the legend of thousands of votes for Richard Nixon in the 1960 presidential election resting at the bottom of Lake Michigan.
State Board of Elections Executive Director Dan White said Friday that a statewide database of voters was available to local election officials in 2004 so that they could compare their voter rolls to the state list. But the board still must create a two-way system, allowing counties and other local election bodies to send updated records to the state.
Of the statewide offices, all but one are held be Democrats, and all of those Dems are running for re-election in 2006. So voters will be able to fully participate in the 2006 state elections in Illinois, before the voter database is up and running two years later.
Interesting, isn't it, that this story comes out on a very low readership day.