Pritzker acknowledges non-citizens who voted after state blunder “may in fact be deported”

Illinois Capitol News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — The Illinois State Board of Elections confirmed on Tuesday that 16 people who declared themselves as non-U.S. citizens on electronic keypads at various Department of Motor Vehicles locations throughout the state were not only automatically registered to vote, but actually cast a ballot in various Illinois elections since November of 2018.

Secretary of State Jesse White’s office forwarded the information of 574 people into the automatic voter registration system after they checked a box to indicate they were not American citizens. County clerks are responsible for completing that registration process at the local level. According to the State Board of Elections, 545 of the 574 people were ultimately registered to vote. 16 of those individuals actually voted. Two of them voted multiple times in different elections.

The state election authorities have since notified local county clerks of the error and has provided them with individual names and voter identification numbers. Some local election officials have started scanning voter rolls to remove the errant names from the registered voter lists before early voting begins on February 6th.

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.

During a media event at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Governor Pritzker said, “We want to fully investigate” the blunder.

“Securing our elections, making sure that we are, that everybody knows that our democracy is working properly is a priority of mine,” Pritzker said Tuesday afternoon.

The Democratic governor who campaigned on a promise to make Illinois a welcoming state for immigrants also acknowledged the error that originated at the Secretary of State’s office may result in legal, documented residents being deported.

“That’s the law today,” Pritzker said. “The people who voted, who actually voted — the 19 people that have been identified — if they are ineligible to vote, which is what it appears they were, then they may in fact be deported. But, again, there’s still a lot of work to do, there’s only been less than 24 hours as far as I know, looking into this and making sure that we’ve got all the facts right so we’ll know more in the next few days.”

State senators in both parties have called for investigative hearings. House Republicans called for hearings on Monday, but House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office has not responded to requests for comment.

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.” 

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