Defiant Illinois Pulls Into Motor-Voter Lane

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ILLINOIS'S decision this week to comply with the national motor-voter act underscores the difficulty states face in resisting a law that advocates say is spurring the biggest jump in voter registration in US history. The decision by GOP Gov. Jim Edgar came one day after a federal appeals court rejected Illinois's objections and unanimously upheld the constitutionality of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which aims to facilitate registration. "I do not believe it is ... prudent to prolong the battle," Governor Edgar said.

Supporters of the NVRA say the Illinois decision bodes well for their campaign to compel all states to comply with the act. The federal government has now sued eight states for refusing to implement the law. "This will send a real message that the NVRA is constitutional and that even though states might not like it they have no other options," says David Plotkin of the voter-rights group HumanSERVE.

The ruling was especially significant for adding the voices of three Seventh Circuit Court judges, who are regarded as conservative, to those of more liberal judges who have ordered states to comply. Under the act, more than 2 million citizens registered to vote between January and March. Some 20 million are expected to sign up by the end of 1996.

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