The Illinois State Board of Elections recently notified 59 local election authorities that 774 former inmates of the Illinois Department of Corrections may have had their voter registrations erroneously canceled due to a data-matching error involving both agencies.
Matching based on information forwarded to the State Board of Elections incorrectly categorized the individuals as currently incarcerated when in fact they had completed their sentences and been discharged. The State Board of Elections has worked directly with the Illinois Department of Corrections to identify the affected individuals, whose records were among more than 126,000 shared between the two agencies between 2014 and 2019.
Under Illinois law, voting rights are suspended during an inmate’s period of incarceration but are restored upon release, though the individual must re-register to vote. This includes those who are released on parole, on mandatory supervised release and on condition of electronic monitoring.
The Board of Elections has provided each election authority with voter information on the affected individuals so that their registrations can be reviewed for reinstatement by the start of early voting on Feb. 6. It is possible that some of the cancellations are for reasons unrelated to this data error and known only to the local election authority.
The Board of Elections and Department of Corrections are committed to ensuring this does not happen again. Both agencies are currently revising their data sharing agreement and matching parameters to avoid this error in future data exchanges. Upon identifying the potential problem in November 2019, the Board ceased sharing IDOC matches with local election authorities and began the process of identifying individuals who may have been affected by the error.
Because Illinois allows for voter registration on Election Day and the casting of provisional ballots for those whose registration status is in question, the affected registrants would have had the opportunity to re-register and/or cast provisional ballots at their polling places if they wished to vote in an election after the error occurred.
The following election jurisdictions have been notified:
|City of Bloomington||6|
|City of East St Louis||6|
|City of Galesburg||2|
|City of Rockford||39|
|St. Clair County||4|
The Illinois State Board of Elections encourages all eligible citizens to register and vote. This includes those with criminal records who are not incarcerated. A guide to the voting rights of those with criminal records is attached to this release.
Additionally, the State Board of Elections encourages all Illinois voters, including those who may have been on the list of incorrectly categorized former inmates of the Department of Corrections, to check their registration status using the board’s online Registration Lookup page at https://ova.elections.il.gov/RegistrationLookup.aspx.
The State Board of Elections is an independent state agency charged with the responsibility of having general supervision over the administration of election laws of the State of Illinois. Elections are administered locally by the State’s 108 election authorities.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS:
VOTING WITH A CRIMINAL RECORD
Regardless of your criminal record, anyone who is not serving time for a conviction is eligible to vote in Illinois.
If you meet ALL the above criteria and you have a criminal record, you can vote unless you are currently serving a sentence in any federal or state prison, county jail, or are on work release.
YOU CAN VOTE IF:
- You have been released from jail on parole, mandatory supervised release, or electronic monitoring
- You have been charged and not convicted.
- You can vote if you are in jail pre-trial. You can also vote if you have been released on bail or bond, are not convicted for the crime you are detained for, are under electronic monitoring, or have recently been arrested but never convicted
- You are on probation
- You have been incarcerated before, but are not currently
- You are homeless or don’t have a permanent living situation
YOU CANNOT VOTE IF:
- You are NOT a U.S. Citizen (including “green card” holders and other people with lawful status)
- You are under 18 on the date of the next General Election or Consolidated Election
- You have been convicted of any crime and are currently in prison or jail for that crime
- You are on furlough (temporary leave from prison or jail)
- You are a resident of an Adult Transition Center (“ATC”)
- You voted in a different state in the same election
YOU MUST RE-REGISTER TO VOTE even if you were registered to vote before conviction.
There are three ways you can register to vote: online, by mail, or in-person.
- Check Eligibility. Review the boxes
- Determine best registration method. There are three ways to register to vote – online, by-mail, or in- person. Which registration method is best for you depends on what I.D. you have, how close Election Day is, and how flexible your schedule
- Make sure you have the right I.D. If you have an Illinois Driver’s License or State I.D. and know your social security number you can register online, by-mail, or in-person. If you do not have these I.D.s then registering in-person is the best option, because there are many more forms of acceptable I.D. You need two forms of I.D. to register in-person and one must show your current address. (Remember, you can vote even if you’re homeless!)
- Determine best voting method. There are three options for voting. Pick the voting option that works best for
- Vote-by-Mail. Use this method if you have restricted movement and it would be difficult to get to a polling place, or if you have limited time.
- Early Voting in Person. Use this method to avoid lines, if you don’t have a flexible schedule (evening and weekend voting hours are available), or if you are a first time voter. Staff should have more time to address any issues that come up and help answer questions. You can also register and vote at the same time when you Early Vote.
- Election Day Voting in Person. Use this method to vote alongside others in your home precinct. In larger counties with a population over 100,000, you can register at your home precinct polling location on Election Day.
- Find your polling location. If you are early voting you can vote at a variety of locations. If you are voting on Election Day you must go to your specific home precinct polling location based on your address.
TOP 6 THINGS TO KNOW
- An IDOC I.D. can be used to register to vote in person – There are many forms of acceptable ID to use when registering. Your IDOC I.D. can be used when registering in-person, but you must also have another form of I.D. that shows your current
- You must re-register to vote when you are released from jail even if you were registered to vote before
- Your address can be a shelter, a friend’s house, a food pantry, etc. – so long as you can receive mail there. If you are registering in-person, you will need a letter from someone verifying that you receive your mail at that address. This letter can be used as one of your two forms of I.D. when you register in
- If you have restrictions on your movement you can still vote. For example, if you are on parole, mandatory supervised release, electronic monitoring, are on a registered sex offender registry, etc. – you can either vote early at one of the polling locations where you are not restricted OR apply to vote by
- If you have been charged with a crime, but not yet convicted, you can vote. You can vote if:
- You have been released on bail or bond
- You are in jail but not convicted of the crime for which you are being held
- You are under electronic monitoring
- You have been recently arrested but not convicted
- If you are already a registered voter, you do not need to bring an I.D. with you to vote, but it might be helpful because it is the easiest way to clear up questions, if there are any, about your eligibility to vote.