Why you should put registering to vote at top of your to-do list


Illustrations of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. (TNS)

By Anna Spoerre

Students who wait too long to register to vote may be “SOL,” according to Jackson County’s top election official.

The first presidential election in which many students are eligible to cast votes is quickly approaching.

Illinois’ new rules make this the first presidential election in which the state offers same-day voting and registration. But, because of a recent federal lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of same-day voting, Illinois citizens might not be able to both register and cast a ballot on Nov. 8, said Larry Reinhardt, the Jackson County Clerk. 


Under the current law, Jackson County is required to have same-day registration and voting offered in at least one location.

The lawsuit, according to reporting by the Chicago Tribune, is an attempt by Republicans to end election-day registration because of a claim that it blocks free and equal access to voting.

Reinhardt said this situation is something for students to consider when preparing for the upcoming general election. Even if changes to the registration procedure aren’t implemented, Reinhardt still urges students to register as soon as possible.

In Illinois, registration closes Oct. 11 — but other opportunities to register are available leading up to election day.

Early voting and grace period registration will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 20, 25 and 28, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Nov. 2, 3 and 4 on the first floor of the Student Center.

The same registration and voting options will also be available the three weeks leading up to the election at the Carbondale Civic Center, Reinhardt said.

On election day, SIU voting precincts will be located at University Hall, Grinnell Hall and Lentz Hall. As of Monday afternoon, more than 2,600 people had registered to vote at one of those three sites, he said.


With less than seven weeks until the election, almost 40,000 people have registered to vote in Jackson County. Reinhardt said he expects that number to grow by a couple thousand by November.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. (TNS)
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. (TNS)

With such a polarized presidential race between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, coupled with openings in many state seats, Reinhardt said the five minutes it takes to register to vote is well worth students’ time.

All eligible students need to present two forms of identification with at least one verifying a current address, whether it be a piece of postmarked mail or a lease.

This procedure can even be completed online for those with Illinois IDs. Everyone also has the option of registering by mail or in person at the city clerk’s office in Carbondale City Hall.

“If you want to get through quick and easy, you need to register early,” he said.

MORE: Considering presidential candidates from a college perspective

Last year, Reinhardt said there were several hundred people still in line at the close of the polls on election night.

He said this year the Student Center is gearing up for as many as 2,000 additional voters on election day.

Statewide, between 250,000 to 500,000 extra voters are expected to do the same in Illinois on Nov. 8, he said.

In the March primary, more than 110,000 people registered on election day, Reinhardt said.

“We happen to be a population of procrastinators,” he said. “With everything else going on, it seems like people tend to put things off to the last minute, and many states are recognizing that and moving to election day registration in response to that.”

Campus editor Anna Spoerre can be reached at 618-536-3397, [email protected] or on Twitter @annaspoerre.

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