By Illinois Radio Network
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois’ automatic voter registration program, though not fully-implemented, appears to have allowed more than 500 non-citizens onto various county’s election registries.
In letters first obtained by Bloomington-based political blogger Diane Benjamin, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office notified the State Board of Elections that a keypad glitch in the non-REAL ID license and identification card process allowed a number of non-citizens to have their information forwarded to ISBE from July 2, 2019 to Dec. 13, 2019. Those non-citizens were then sent voter cards.
“We caught the error and we’ve identified everybody,” Secretary of State spokesman Dave Drucker said Friday. “We’ve sent them a letter and the State Board of Elections acknowledging that it was our error.”
The non-eligible DMV customers made their way onto the state’s voter rolls when the keypads they used to enter information incorrectly added their information to bundles of correctly registered customers.
“Since these applicants have indicated “No” to an attestation regarding citizenship, there is a strong possibility these individuals were not citizens at the time of their application, however, that does not necessarily mean they are not currently citizens,” according to letter from an elections official sent on Dec. 30.
The errors, as admittedly serious by authorities, represent less than one percent of the more than 740,000 new voters registered through Illinois DMV facilities since the automatic voter registration program began in July 2019.
Secretary of State Jesse White’s office had faced pressure, including the threat of lawsuits, from advocates of automatic voter registration. Advocates said the implementation had moved too slowly. Meanwhile, Secretary of State officials have been scrambling to get residents signed up for the new federally-compliant REAL ID, a cumbersome process that travel experts warn could create chaos come next October when millions of people hoping to fly somewhere for the holidays could be turned away if they don’t have federally-compliant identification.
Officials from ISBE confirmed that they had reached out to the local elections authorities to ensure the incorrectly-registered voters weren’t in their databases.
“We informed all the relevant jurisdictions and provided specific information on each voter so their registrations could be checked,” ISBE spokesman Matt Dietrich said. “We determined there were 545 errant registrations in 48 local jurisdictions.”
The glitch was confined to the Secretary of State’s offices, Dietrich said. The other agencies now in the automatic voter registration program – Natural Resources and Human Services – used different processes.
The letter said that because the possible non-citizens were registered to vote at no fault of their own while also not attesting to be American citizens, they would not be punished.
Illinois Radio Network can be reached at News@WJBC.com.