State Decides To Drop Fight Against Motor VoterSANDRA SKOWRON , Associated Press
Oct. 3, 1996 11:49 AM ET
SPRINGFIELD, ILL. SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ The federal motor voter law finally has found a permanent place to park in Illinois.
Top state officials grudgingly accepted the federal law Wednesday, ending Illinois' confusing voter registration system _ one for federal ballots and one for state and local races.
Nearly 250,000 Illinois residents registered under the federal law now will be able to vote in all races. Elections officials throughout the state don't have to print separate ballots or maintain separate records for federal-only voters.
``This will make the election so much easier for us. It will make it less expensive and will eliminate the confusion,'' said Cook County Clerk David Orr.
Orr, the state League of Women Voters and the city of Chicago won a lower court ruling ordering the state to dismantle the two-tiered system.
The governor, attorney general, secretary of state and election board director said they dropped an appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court to avoid problems in the upcoming election.
The National Voter Rights Act of 1993 requires all states to offer voter registration through state agencies such as driver's license offices _ hence the name, motor voter.
In Illinois, resistance to the law fell largely along party lines: Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed on the grounds that the law would contribute to voter fraud.
With Republicans controlling the Legislature, Illinois refused to align the state's voter registration standards with federal election law.
As a result, Illinois voters who registered under motor voter could vote only in federal elections. The state wouldn't even have gone that far, but it was forced to by a federal judge last year.
For the March primary, local election officials supplied separate ballots for federal elections and had separate voting booths. Critics argued that this was unconstitutional because it created separate and unequal classes of voters.