The Illinois State Board of Elections admitted that 19 noncitizens who were erroneously registered to vote cast ballots in the 2018 election. “We do know that some of them voted,” said spokesman Matt Dietrich in a phone call. Authorities are reportedly trying to confirm the illegal voters’ locations.
The number is significant as the Macon County Sheriff’s race was decided by just one vote in 2018 in favor of Democrat Antonio D. Brown.
The office of Secretary of State Jesse White took the blame for the “isolated” incident, which it said was the result of a “programming error” in the state’s new automatic voter registration process that has since been repaired.
Illinois law allows immigrants who are not citizens to get a driver’s license or state ID. Like many states, Illinois pushes voter registration at the time of getting a driver’s license. But federal and state law prohibits anyone other than U.S. citizens from voting in American elections.
On December 18, White’s office sent a letter to the State Board of Elections notifying them that, despite safeguards, a fault in the programming of the agency’s electronic keypads registered a total of 574 non-American citizens to vote. “For whatever reason that technological programming error did not properly remove the individuals,” explained Henry Haupt, a spokesman for the Secretary of State. “The individuals who are applying for driver’s license were inadvertently pooled into the automatic voter registration.”
Once a person registers to vote, his name becomes public record. As local officials and political campaigns regularly mail voting instructions and advertisements to households with registered voters, it’s likely that the error led to a stream of pamphlets and mailers to the noncitizens. “If that person voted, that’s a huge problem when it comes to the federal government,” warned state Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield). “That’s a deportable offense for this person. And if that’s the case, that’s something that’s on the Secretary of State’s office for allowing that offense to happen.”
Butler and four other House Republicans wrote a letter to White’s longtime political ally, House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who has held the position for all but two years since 1983. In the letter, the Republicans called on White and the State Board of Elections to testify before investigative hearings in the House Executive Committee.
“We have to have complete confidence that our offices are doing the right thing,” Butler declared. “And that goes for the Secretary of State. He may or may not have known about this. I have no idea. But he needs to be held responsible for it. It’s his operation that allowed this to happen.”
Haupt asserted that the issue has been mended, saying: “We discovered an error, and we fixed it. And then we notified the State Board of Elections and the local election authorities and the individuals that were impacted.”
Illinois’ primary election is on March 17, and early voting starts February 6. Local election authorities have reportedly been informed about which noncitizens voted and have received instructions to take them off voter rolls.
Voter fraud is often a hot-button issue come election time, with Republicans arguing stricter preventative measures against fraud and Democrats decrying such measures as “voter suppression” that allegedly discriminates against minorities.
The two perspectives have come to a clash in a number of recent court cases in different parts if the country.
Earlier this month, a Wisconsin appeals court put on hold an order to immediately purge over 200,000 names from state voter rolls. A lower court judge had ordered the purge to comply with a state law that says names of voters suspected of having moved must be removed if they fail to respond to a verification mailing within 30 days.
The appeals court ruling effectively handed Democrats a win, as there will likely be no resolution, and thus no change to state voter rolls, in time for upcoming elections.
In December, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction blocking North Carolina’s voter ID requirement, which was set to begin this year. The judge responsible was Loretta Biggs, a Barack Obama appointee, who ruled in response to a lawsuit filed by the NAACP and others. Unless the injunction is appealed successfully, the voter ID requirement will remain on hold until the lawsuit is resolved.
As Election Day draws closer, the battle against voter fraud is likely to become more intense.
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