August 31, 2006

CHICAGO (Aug. 30)—It’s hard to think about Election Day when temperatures are still balmy, the beach is beckoning and the big ones are biting at your favorite fishing spot.

But Election Day, November 7, is only 68 days away.

Even worse, October 10 is only 40 days away.

What’s the big deal with October 10?

“That’s the last day when Illinois citizens can register to vote,” says UTU Illinois Legislative Director Joseph C. Szabo. “If you’re not registered by that time, you won’t be eligible to vote in November.”

Actually, the October 10 deadline is even more urgent than it looks, Szabo said. That’s because 12 of those 40 days fall on weekends or holidays when government offices are closed.

“And for railroad crew members it’s even worse, because our members work such long and irregular hours,” Szabo said. “There may be 28 calendar days left on which you can legally register, but can you honestly say you’re sure which of those days you’ll have enough free time to register?

“If you act now, the best way to register is on line at the UTU Web page,” Szabo said. “Simply go to and click on ‘Voter Registration’. It will take you to a site where you can print out a pdf form to complete and mail in. But you must allow time for mailing and processing.”

Places where you can register in person include your county clerk’s office, a Board of Elections office, city and village offices, and, in the larger cities, the office of a precinct committeeman, Szabo said.

Also, people who are clients of the Illinois departments of Public Aid, Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Rehabilitation Services can register at those offices while receiving services. So can motorists who are obtaining or renewing a driver’s license at a driver-testing facility.

“Whatever method you choose for registering, do it now, during a weekday when you’re not working or sleeping,” Szabo said. “Because of erratic railroad work schedules, you may not have another chance. And if you go to register in person, bring at least two forms of identification showing the address of your current residence.”

Failure to vote would be a blow to your own interests and those of your fellow workers, Szabo said.

“The Illinois Legislative Board will shortly be issuing its list of candidate endorsements for the 2006 elections,” Szabo said. “These endorsements will signal to our members which candidates support the interests and rights of railroad workers. Endorsed candidates come from both parties, and endorsements are based solely on the candidates’ positions on issues affecting the welfare of rail workers.

“Those endorsements will offer a reliable voting guideline for our members and their families,” Szabo said. “But the guidelines are useless if you cannot follow up with a vote. If you or a member of your family is not registered to vote in the jurisdiction in which you live, get down to the nearest county, township, city or village office now and register. Remember, the deadline for registration is October 10.”