Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

February 11, 2013

Quinn: Time to put voting registration online

(Continued)

His spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said the general concept is that voting-age individuals would be allowed to register online if their registration information, such as date of birth and citizenship, is verifiable. The applicant also must have a verifiable signature on file with the secretary of state's office or a statewide voter registration database.

Secretary of State Jesse White hasn't been consulted by Quinn, White's spokesman Henry Haupt said. Neither has the Illinois Board of Elections, spokesman Jim Tenuto said. However, Tenuto said the measure could be helpful in beefing up registration rolls.

"It's a matter of making it easier," he said.

A former state elections chief, Ron Michaelson, said preventing fraud should be paramount. He said voters wanting to register online should be required to cast their ballot in person the first time they vote to verify identification. That requirement already is in place for anyone who registers by mail.

At least 15 states, including Colorado, California and Nevada, allow voters to register online.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission has estimated that nearly 769,000 people nationwide registered online to vote in the 2010 midterm elections. The number went up by almost 78,000 compared to the 2008 presidential election.

Democratic leaders in Congress have introduced proposals to force states to have voter registration websites, but the measures face a tough battle in Washington's partisan climate. Some opponents argue that election matters should be decided by individual states, not Congress.

Under California law, an individual's online application includes date of birth and the last four digits of the Social Security number, which is checked against a driver's license or identification card kept by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles. If the information matches, an electronic image of the applicant's DMV signature is added to the application at the end of the process.

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