Guest Column: Setting the record straight on voter registration

January 22, 2014

By David Soll

I am a voter registrar here in Winnebago County, and it worries me that many people are being given false information about voter registration and supposed armies of people trying to vote multiple times across America. I hope to clarify a few things as it pertains to voter registration, voting and a supposed conspiracy of massive voter fraud.

When you register to vote through a person like me, I will ask you to show me whatever ID necessary to prove you are who you say you are. I will fill out the form based on the information on your ID, and once the form is completed, I have you sign it. It is at that moment that your signature becomes your ID when you go vote. In other words, once you are registered to vote, you have already shown ID!

It is redundant to make it so that you must show ID at the polling place on Election Day, with certain exceptions. Like here in Winnebago County, if a person prints an application to vote online, fills it out, signs and sends it in, that person must show their ID at the polling place the first time they go to vote. This application is flagged by the county clerk’s office so the election judges know to ask for an ID the first time you vote.

When you sign in at the polling place, those election judges compare that signature to the one on file. If they match, you are good to go. The election judge does have discretion to ask for your ID at any time, but usually that’s only when your signature doesn’t match the one on file. I suspect this is not something that happens too often, even in a nation as large as ours.

This log book I speak of lists every single person who is registered to vote for each of the 150 precincts in Winnebago County. Each polling place typically covers two to four precincts, so the election judges will have a log book covering only those precincts. Also, once you register to vote and remain living in one location, you are registered for life. These steps are only repeated when you move from your current location to a new one.

Yet, for reasons that defy logic, many states are passing voter ID laws allegedly to curb a massive outbreak of voter fraud. There are already safeguards in place that keep people from being able to vote more than once. I have heard of a few clever folks getting around these safeguards, but not one of the new voter ID laws passed across America would have stopped these people from skirting the law, had it been in place. In the end, these laws will only succeed in one thing: potentially restrict millions of people’s ability to express their constitutional right to vote! All on this crazy assumption there are roaming armies committing the crime of voting multiple times across America.

So, the idea that there is a mass of people going out of their way to vote multiple times is ludicrous on its face.

David Soll is a Loves Park, Ill., resident.

From the Jan. 22-28, 2014, issue

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