Dump Winkel Part III
PLUS ONE FOR THE GOOD GUYS:
PRO-STUDENT VOTING MEASURE PASSES G.A. DESPITE WINKEL’S OPPOSITION
The news-gazette reported a new bill passed the General Assembly last month that requires public universities to offer students a chance to register to vote during class registration. House Bill 715 requires universities to send voter registration information along with class registration mailings or to post voter registration information on the internet if a school does class registration on the web, like at the U of I.
This bill will go a long way in helping college students register on time and accurately so they will be given the opportunity to vote that too often eludes them. Since many college students will be voting for the first time in their lives, colleges and the state of Illinois needs to do everything they can to educate and encourage students to participate in the rewarding process of democracy. Many students don’t know how to register to vote, move every year and forget that they haven’t registered at their new address, or register to vote at their parent’s house even though they will be at school on Election Day. Last year, the college democrats registered over 10,000 new voters. This was done with a lot of effort and time on the part of volunteers, but it is almost assured that not every student who wanted to vote got the opportunity to register. This bill is a great first step in giving students a voice in our country.
However, not all of our local representatives in state government agree with this bill or the idea of helping college students get a chance to vote. State Senator Rick Winkel, R-Urbana, voted "present" on this bill. In the Illinois General Assembly all bills must pass with a majority of elected officials voting "yes." The magical number in the House is 60 and in the Senate 30. So basically, not voting, voting "no" and voting "present" all have the same negative effect on legislation. Winkel knows this, and knows that a "present" vote was in fact a vote in opposition to this bill. But why would the state senator who is elected to represent the U of I be opposed to helping students register to vote? Good question. Maybe it is because he is more worried about getting himself re-elected then representing his student constituent’s priorities.
The good news is that U of I students do have one voice in state government. State Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, D-Urbana, voted in favor of this bill, and hence in favor of giving students a voice in who represents them in government. And even better news is that Winkel is up for re-election in 2006. I wonder if Winkel will be kicking himself when in 2006 all those newly registered student voters remember how they registered and how Winkel tried to prevent that from happening?