clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pritzker sees ‘no reason’ to pause program that registered non-citizens to vote: ‘The glitch has been fixed’

GOP lawmakers sent a letter last week to Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, demanding that Secretary of State Jesse White explain how 545 non-U.S. citizens were mistakenly registered to vote.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley talk about election security measures at a news conference Monday.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley talk about election security measures at a news conference Monday.
Rachel Hinton/Sun-Times

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said a “glitch” that resulted in non-citizens being registered to vote has been “overcome,” and he sees no reason to pause an automatic registration program as electoral agencies determine how the prohibited voters ended up on the rolls in the first place.

“We’re being very careful at our agencies and how it’s being implemented now, but there’s no reason to have an across-the-board pause, especially when the glitch has been fixed,” Pritzker said at a Monday news conference. “And we’re going to have hearings to make sure we’re ferreting out what went wrong with this glitch.”

At the press event, Pritzker was joined by U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and members of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, to talk about election security measures.

Last week, Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Democratic Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, demanding answers from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White about how 545 self-identified non-U.S. citizens were mistakenly registered to vote through the state’s new automatic registration system.

The Illinois Board of Elections said as many as 14 non-citizens appear to have cast ballots in elections, and Pritzker said those people remain under investigation.

The state’s election board sent the names of 124 people to the city election board Dec. 30 — those people had their voter registrations cancelled that day, Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago election board, said Monday.

Of that number, 118 had never voted. Four voted before the automatic voter registration system was put in place. Only two non-citizens in the city cast ballots, Allen said: one in November 2018, the other in April 2019.

Republicans were not as confident as the Democratic governor that the problem was solved.

In a statement, Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady said “until we have assurances this will not happen again, and until there’s an investigation into how this glitch occurred and why it went unreported, we should not be so quick to assume this problem has been solved.”

Chicago’s election board, as well as other electoral boards around the state, will receive updated equipment for the March primary. Touch screens will be “more modern,” resembling giant iPads, and, when filling out paper ballots, voters will fill in an oval instead of an arrow which was a featured on previous ballots, Allen said. The touch screens will generate a paper ballot that, when scanned, will create an image of the ballot just in case the original is lost, tampered with or damaged.

Quigley pointed to the state election board being hacked by Russians in 2016 as one reason for the updated equipment and focus on election security, saying the “troll farm in St. Petersburg is robust and they have extraordinary capabilities.” He urged election boards and candidates to be vigilant.

“I believe what [the Russians] were attempting to do was attack the integrity of the democratic process and it only takes a little bit of hacking to accomplish that, to raise questions in the public’s mind,” Quigley said. “We need to be mindful of their efforts toward that end.”