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White getting heat from all sides during voter registration controversy

Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020

* Bernie

Politicians from both major parties sought assurances Tuesday that there would be no repeat of a programming error in the Illinois secretary of state’s office that yielded more than 500 possible non-U.S. citizens being inadvertently registered to vote.

Of those people, registered under an automatic voter registration system for people who apply for driver’s licenses or state identification cards, 16 ended up voting, including one who voted in three elections and another who voted in two, according to State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich. Combined, 19 ballots were cast statewide in the general election of 2018, the consolidated primary of spring 2019 and the consolidated election of spring 2019. None of the votes were cast in Sangamon County, where the one registration that resulted from the glitch has been suspended.

Secretary of State Jesse White’s office discovered last month that between July 2, 2018, and Dec. 13, 2019, registration information of 574 people was “improperly forwarded” to local election authorities to be registered, even though those people had indicated while at secretary of state facilities that they were not citizens. That yielded a call Monday from some House Republicans for a legislative hearing, and that was echoed Tuesday by Democratic state Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, who sponsored the automatic registration bill, which was signed into law by GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner in August 2017.

* Mark Maxwell at WCIA

In at least once case, a voter who checked a box to declare they were not an American citizen appears to have done so in error. The Macon County Clerk’s Office confirmed that voter has a Social Security number and has previously attested they are an American citizen. The State Board of Elections says that individual has voted in multiple elections dating back to 1988. […]

The Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider called for a temporary suspension of the automatic voter registration program because it “compromises the integrity of our entire election system.”

“Mistakes are made, but when it comes to voting, it simply is inexcusable that non-citizens voted in Illinois and potentially affected the outcome of elections across the state,” Schneider said. “Those in the Secretary of State’s Office who allowed this to happen should be terminated from their employment with the State. Public hearings in the General Assembly should commence immediately, and the AVR program should be temporarily suspended until we get answers.”

* Jamie Munks at the Tribune

Those who were inadvertently registered received a Dec. 20 letter from the secretary of state’s office telling them, “The Secretary of State’s Office made the mistake in this matter, not you.”

The letter tells the people if they have received a voter registration card they should destroy it or return it to the election authority that issued it.

“Most importantly, you should not vote in any elections,” the letter states.

Pritzker said securing elections is a priority for his administration and “we want to fully investigate.”

* Hannah Meisel at the Daily Line

The Just Democracy Coalition, which includes organizations that pushed for the law in both 2016 — when Rauner ultimately vetoed the bill that first passed the General Assembly — and for the 2017 version that became law, put blame on the Secretary of State’s office Tuesday, calling the possibility that those who voted may be arrested and deported “sickeningly real.”

“Let’s be clear: Automatic Voter Registration or AVR isn’t the problem — the Secretary of State’s office is the problem,” the coalition said in a statement. “The agency’s massively delayed and error-riddled implementation of AVR has undermined the law’s intended purpose to make Illinois’ voting rolls more fair, accurate, and secure — a mission shared by lawmakers of both parties who passed AVR on a bipartisan and unanimous basis in 2017.”

The coalition has repeatedly criticized the Secretary of State’s efforts to implement the automatic voter registration program during the past two years. White’s office blamed old technology for missed deadlines as his office also began issuing identification cards and drivers’ licenses that meet federal standards in March. […]

Lawrence Benito, the CEO and executive director of Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights — a key member of the coalition that pushed for automatic voter registration, characterized the Secretary of State’s office’s actions as a “careless and needless set of circumstances has put so many of our neighbors at risk.”

“The Secretary of State’s office has largely declined to take up our repeated offers to improve AVR implementation through direct assistance, community forums, and outside expertise,” Benito said in a statement Tuesday.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

43 Comments
  1. - Downstate - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 9:59 am:

    And I was assured, even by commentators on this board, that voter fraud was a myth.


  2. - statehoss - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:00 am:

    The SOS letter was a disaster of CYA.

    They sent a letter to 500 people telling them that the preferred action to remedy SOS errors would be to tear up their voter card, which is basically just a piece of paper, rather than to take action to have the registration revoked.

    “Dear driver’s license holder, we made a mistake that affects you. We recommend you bury your head in the sand till everyone has forgotten about it.”

    Did everyone with any sense at all resign in anticipation that Sec. White won’t seek another term?


  3. - Quibbler - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:01 am:

    So, 19 allegedly improper votes, out of millions, due to a clerical error. It will be a disgrace if GOP hysterics over that undermine support for AVR and the thousands of people it’s brought into the democratic process. Media outlets should not be uncritically repeating wild, unsupported GOP claims that this swung elections.


  4. - Montrose - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:04 am:

    “And I was assured, even by commentators on this board, that voter fraud was a myth.”

    Nope. Don’t start that. This is stupid mistake that needs to be fixed ASAP, but don’t start with throwing around the very loaded term “voter fraud” that is used as code for a conscious effort to mess with elections. This is not a “See! Its a conspiracy!” moment.


  5. - Quibbler - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:04 am:

    == And I was assured, even by commentators on this board, that voter fraud was a myth. ==

    It’s so uncommon that it may as well be a myth. And you read the stories, it’s clear that these voters didn’t intend to perpetrate a “fraud;” they told the state that they weren’t citizens, but were registered inadvertently anyway.
    Frankly, the fact that there were only 19 allegedly improper votes out of millions suggests that AVR has been a huge success.


  6. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:05 am:

    == calling the possibility that those who voted may be arrested and deported “sickeningly real.”==

    Not wrong. I fully expect the man really running the US - Sean Hannity - to run a segment calling for all 574 to be arrested and deported immediately within the next week, even if only 16 of them actually voted. ICE or CPB will immediately comply


  7. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:09 am:

    ==that voter fraud was a myth.==

    Nobody has said that. What has been said is that it isn’t the rampant problem the hyserical voter fraud crowd has made it out to be. Should there ever be anyone who votes who shouldn’t? Of course not. Even 1 us unacceptable. But, as has been pointed out to you time and time again the percentages involved are extremely low.

    So, stop being a victim.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:10 am:

    ===…registration information of 574 people was “improperly forwarded” to local election authorities to be registered, even though those people had indicated while at secretary of state facilities that they were not citizens.===

    Very important takeaway, especially for those wanting to make this solely about “voter fraud”.

    See, if ya wanna make it solely “voter fraud”, you need to dismiss that sentence where the Secretary of State’s office describes very plainly what, in an initial investigation, says.

    “We don’t want you to take full responsibility on a huge error you made, we need voter fraud for our narrative”?


  9. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:11 am:

    I can tell you that, though they should know better, some of those Green Card holders may not have realized they were ineligible to vote. If the government sends you a voter registration you might assume you can vote. I’m not sure that deportation is the right punishment here. Hopefully it doesn’t go to that extreme.


  10. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:15 am:

    For a moment let’s temporarily forget who’s to blame. Will each of the known breaches be noted in the registered voter system to prevent the individual from getting a ballot in March? Can the SOS office assure Illinois that this has been thoroughly reviewed from the top to bottom of the state and what has already been reported is actually the full extent of the foul up–not the tip of the iceberg?


  11. - Southsider - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:17 am:

    I support automatic voter registration, but this bill and it’s implementation have been a disaster from the beginning. Much of the problem starts with the fact Illinois has an already over complicated system for voter registration and running elections. When you get a license and register to vote, you’re not actually registered. That info is transmitted and the actual registration is done by each clerk or election authority. Technically they’re supposed to verify before adding to the rolls.


  12. - Jocko - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:32 am:

    ==voter fraud was a myth==

    No one said it doesn’t exist. We just choose to prioritize (while some choose to ignore) consequential problems like Russian election interference and gerrymandering.


  13. - Evanston - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:36 am:

    I do not blame Jesse White. I consider myself an independent who leans neither right or left. If anyone or any group is to blame, it is the legislature that made the law. Jesse White is one of the best Secretary of State that Illinois has ever had. I do not say this as a partisan Democrat because I am not. I just trust Jesse White.


  14. - DIstant watcher - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:42 am:

    Is no one going to point out that White’s management of AVR data allowed thousands of eligible Illinois and to register and vote, and that their participation in elections vastly outweighed any damage that may have been caused by letting non citizens register?

    No system is perfect. Do you want one that keeps thousands of eligible citizens from voting or one that may allow a few ineligible people to register? If you believe power comes from the consent of the governed, the answer is clear.


  15. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:46 am:

    === I’m guessing===

    Yep. You are.

    When you factually know, like the 574, which is 0.078% and the less than 3%… of that 0.078%, let us know.


  16. - A Guy - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:47 am:

    ==I’m not sure that deportation is the right punishment here. Hopefully it doesn’t go to that extreme.==

    Making an exception for the couple who cast multiple votes?


  17. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:49 am:

    == When you get a license and register to vote, you’re not actually registered. That info is transmitted and the actual registration is done by each clerk or election authority. Technically they’re supposed to verify before adding to the rolls.==
    So two factor verification might have saved the day. Maybe no one voted illegally.


  18. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:56 am:

    ==I’m guessing ==

    That’s what you do on this topic. You guess. When you have actual facts let us know. You seem to be in the know on this topic. Of course you’ve never provided any factual basis for your “guesses.”


  19. - Jibba - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:57 am:

    A guy, did you miss the part about that person actually being a citizen, but just checking the alien box by mistake?


  20. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:57 am:

    ==who cast multiple votes==

    A guy, what I understand is that they did not cast multiple votes in the same election. That number includes voting in a couple of local elections. That wasn’t made clear for whatever reason in all of the reporting.


  21. - statehoss - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 10:57 am:

    While the idea that the SOS intentionally did this to allow a handful of fraudulent votes is kind of silly, I suspect that those who say vote fraud is a myth, or so rare it might as well be, have never investigated vote fraud, as I have. The dearth of convictions has a lot to do with the difficulty of fingering the perpetrator after the fact with certainty. Political concerns also seem to be present in the minds of prosecutors.

    Fraud at the level alleged by Trump is an absurd fiction. But fraud has had recent impacts in small districts where a few votes decide contests, in communities where small financial incentives loom larger.


  22. - Bruce (no not him) - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 11:01 am:

    “And I was assured, even by commentators on this board, that voter fraud was a myth.”
    I just don’t see this as voter fraud. They were issued voter registration through no fault or action of their own. Most would probably think ” Well, I told them i wasn’t a citizen, but they issued me a card. I must be able to vote.”


  23. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 11:01 am:

    === I suspect that those who say vote fraud is a myth, or so rare it might as well be, have never investigated vote fraud, as I have.===

    Don’t hide that light under a barrel, friend.

    Where? What cases? How many? Which races were overturned?

    === But fraud has had recent impacts in small districts where a few votes decide contests, in communities where small financial incentives loom larger.===

    Example?

    As you note:

    “I suspect that those who say vote fraud is a myth, or so rare it might as well be, have never investigated vote fraud, as I have.”

    Did you notify local authorities?


  24. - West Side the Best Side - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 11:05 am:

    So, the SOS tells the election board that someone who checked the box that they were not a citizen is in fact a citizen, the election board sends them a voter’s card and lists them as a registered voter, the precinct captain get the list and offers to drive them to the polls in a GOTV push, and the solution for all this is to deport the poor schlub whose vote didn’t really make a difference in the election results. Yep, sounds about right for these times.


  25. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 11:05 am:

    Just out of curiousity I would be interested to know if any of those people who registered had come from a state where green card holders are eligible to vote. In some states you can vote in state and local elections if you hold a green card. Likely that number is low to nil but that would be an explanation as to why one of those 500+ may not have thought anything about being registered to vote.


  26. - Quibbler - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 11:07 am:

    Here’s the real issue: voter registration shouldn’t exist in the first place. They do fine without it in most places in Europe and other exotic jurisdictions like, uh, Nebraska. If there’s even a need for any kind of registration system, the burden of maintaining it should fall 100% on the state.


  27. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 11:07 am:

    Yes, more hysteria Downstate. Keep it up. Now you’re calling into question our entire voting system. You are a piece of work.


  28. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 11:10 am:

    === If more than 500 were registered===

    (Sigh)

    ===…registration information of 574 people was “improperly forwarded” to local election authorities to be registered, even though those people had indicated while at secretary of state facilities that they were not citizens.===

    You’re comparing apples to… white bed sheets.

    === it calls into question the integrity of our voting rolls===

    No. It calls into question why this grievous error occurred, and can’t happen again.

    ===… certainly call for an investigation of voter fraud by illegal aliens.===

    What do you base this on, given how the Secretary of State’s office describes this error to the electoral boards?


  29. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 11:12 am:

    I wonder how many of the thousands of forms the Secretary of State gets have errors on them. I would bet statistically this is average or below. Not making an excuse but we are dealing with people


  30. - lakeside - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 11:19 am:

    ==SOS’s office would certainly call for an investigation of voter fraud by illegal aliens.==

    Alas, the article, it appears, was not read. “All 574 people involved were in the United States legally, Haupt has said.”

    Unless [gathers string of pearls] these are merely ginned up arguments presented to argue a particular viewpoint and not a good faith reply to the facts.


  31. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 11:33 am:

    ==voter fraud by illegal aliens==

    That’s the dog whistle these types of people use. And it gets reinforced when you have a President claiming millions of illegals voted in the last election. You’re not going to placate these sorts of people. They prefer hysterics.


  32. - Skeptic - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 12:01 pm:

    “If more than 500 were registered, even though they admitted to being here illegally,” Objection: States facts not in evidence.


  33. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 12:09 pm:

    “The dearth of convictions has a lot to do with the difficulty of fingering the perpetrator after the fact with certainty.”

    tl;dr- you have no proof of wrongdoing

    – MrJM


  34. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 12:15 pm:

    By all means, hold legislative hearings and do what needs to be done to stop this from happening again.

    But let’s cut it out with the selective outrage. We have a president who seeks foreign interference in our elections and is acting on behalf of Russia and his own interests over the country’s. This is after Russia already interfered in our elections. We have a political party who’s defending the president to the hilt.


  35. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 12:35 pm:

    ==even though they admitted to being here illegally==

    They did no such thing. They marked the box to indicate they were not a citizen. Not being a citizen does not translate into being here illegally. My wife was here for 20 years as a non-citizen green card holder. This is why nobody takes you seriously.


  36. - thoughts matter - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 1:00 pm:

    They were here legally. That was made clear in yesterday’s’ discussion. They just checked a box saying they were non-citizens, but got voter registration cards anyway. I didn’t know that the various counties were supposed to be reverifying all of them before they added them to the rolls. So this is not just a mistake by the SOS. This is a mistake of all the various counties too. It’s also either a mistake or voter fraud on the part of the people who were issued cards, weren’t actually eligible to vote and then voted. That number is even less than the 19, since we’ve been told that at least 1 was actually a
    citizen.
    I don’t see this as a justifiable reason to fire someone- unless that person is already hanging on to their job by a thread. People make mistakes. Good intelligent people make mistakes. Correct it, move on.

    For what it’s worth, people stay on the voting rolls even when their address cannot be verified or even if they move out of state. We don’t fire anyone for that.


  37. - R A T - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 1:17 pm:

    = And I was assured, even by commentators on this board, that voter fraud was a myth. =

    I just talked to all 500 people that received the letter and 499 said they will vote only for republicans. We’re good.


  38. - Downstate - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 2:06 pm:

    “It’s only 500 people, it really not worth further investigation.”
    So says McCook (pop. 240) Mayor Jeff Tobolski
    /s/


  39. - sal-says - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 2:40 pm:

    The hysteria. From pundits, blog contributors & writer!

    Folks, y’all may have missed this: “There is no ‘perfect’ ANYTHING!”
    No perfect people, no perfect computers&tablets&phones, no perfect software. Nothing perfect. Strive for yes, but obtain, never.

    IL has about 6,000,000 voters; So here were talking bout 1 out of 10,000 votes.

    Voting machines are not standard; some are connected to the Internet; many have no paper audit trail. Affecting millions of votes. And there’s hysteria over 1 in 10,000 votes.

    #GetWoke.


  40. - Veil of Ignorance - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 2:51 pm:

    This isn’t about voter fraud or even AVR. This about the fact that for years the Dems have known that Jesse White and his team are not up to the task of modernizing and some of his team view democracy reforms such as AVR as an annoyance. Tine for a nice retirement party and get some new competent folks in there please before the GOP locally and nationally make this more than it really is.


  41. - West Wing - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 4:17 pm:

    Veil is right on target - this is more about the AFL-CIO blocking any potential primary opponent who would have brought new energy to the SOS office. Everyone knows that the office needs a boost of new talent, time to turn the page, come on Democrats get with the program. I’m a Democrat and we need some change.


  42. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Jan 22, 20 @ 5:23 pm:

    @West Wing -

    I think if the AFL-CIO discouraged any Democrats from running against Secretary White in the primary, they did them a huge favor. He is far-and-away the most popular elected official from either party in Illinois. After this tempest passes, he will still be the most popular elected official from either party in Illinois.

    Whomever hopes to succeed him should hope to have his endorsement.


  43. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Jan 23, 20 @ 8:53 am:

    == This about the fact that for years the Dems have known that Jesse White and his team are not up to the task of modernizing and some of his team view democracy reforms such as AVR as an annoyance.==
    I’m sure it was some person’s error, not White finding AVR “annoying.” It’s quite common to create software that blocks an applicant from proceeding further when the wrong box is chosen. So either the people entering the information got fatigued and entered information wrong or some IT code wasn’t up to standards.


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