Illinois to Continue Voter Registration Program After Error


Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday that there are no plans to suspend Illinois' automatic voter registration program as election officials work to contain the fallout from more than 500 people being mistakenly registered.

A "programming error” by Secretary of State Jesse White's office led to 545 people — who indicated they weren't U.S. citizens — being registered through the program as they applied for drivers' licenses. White's office said the error was addressed after they discovered it last month.

By Monday, 370 registrations had been canceled, according to the State Board of Elections which was still determining if 12 people of the people who were registered and voted did so illegally.

“There's no reason to have an across-the-board pause, especially when the glitch has been fixed,” Pritzker, a Democrat, said at an election security news conference.

However, Republicans and good watchdog groups have said the mistake threatens the integrity of the voting system and want to halt the program, which became state law in 2017. In particular, immigrant rights groups were concerned about the unintended consequence of non-citizens facing deportation for illegally voting.

A legislative hearing was planned for Thursday.

Officials from White's office were expected to testify. His office publicly acknowledged the error this month. The registrations date back to June 2018.

The issue has created major headaches for election officials in seven counties, raising questions about next steps and consequences. Also, disagreements between state and local election bodies lingered Monday over exact numbers.

Overall 15 people connected to the mistaken registrations voted in 2018 and 2019 elections. State elect ion officials have said three in central turned out to be citizens with at least two others believed to be in the same category.

Chicago had three voters in question, according to according to State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich.

But Chicago Board of Election Commissioners spokesman Jim Allen said two were outstanding.

By his calculations, six people linked to the mistaken registrations cast ballots. Four had long voter histories and were thought to be citizens, he said. That left two voters in question.

Allen said voter registrations were canceled and no further action was planned. Neither Allen nor Dietrich could explain the discrepancy.

Illinois' primary election is March 17 with early voting starting Feb. 6.

Pritzker said Monday that Illinois is receiving a $15 million in federal funds to improve election security. The move comes after Russian hackers accessed Illinois voter data ahead of the 2016 elections. No information was altered, election officials have said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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