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.