Voters have responsibilities as well as rights

The Madison County Record Sep. 21, 2008, 2:10am

Voting is an important part of American citizenship and a fundamental right and privilege in a democracy. This privilege also comes with numerous responsibilities, according to the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA).

Voters should know the local voter registration requirements and register to vote prior to the deadline. In Illinois, the deadline is 28 days prior to each election. They should notify the registrar of any change of address or circumstance that might affect their registration status.

Voters should know the rules and options for absentee ballots and early voting as well as the hours and location of their polling place. These details of voting are available from local election officials and often are printed in the newspaper along with sample ballots and other voting instructions.

Voters should familiarize themselves with the candidates and issues in advance of Election Day. Once they are in the polling place itself, electioneering and political discussions are not permitted, but voters may ask questions about the voting process.

Voters should report any attempts they may have witnessed that involve committing fraud or corruption in the voting process. This can be reported to the U.S. Attorney's office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Illinois State Board of Elections complaint hotline at 1-866-513-1121, the Illinois Attorney General's office or the office of your election authority.

The complaint procedure also applies to alleged violations of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. These allegations may include violations of voting systems standards, accessibility issues for those with a disability and voter registration.

Persons who have seen actual or attempted acts of discrimination or intimidation of the voting process, may report it to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.

For further information about law-related issues, contact an Illinois State Bar Association member-lawyer in your area or visit

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