Fearing voter suppression in the November election, the Democratic Party of Illinois has established a hotline and voter protection initiative as the early voting process gets underway.
“Through this hotline anyone in the state can alert us to any irregularities and any attempt to suppress the vote,” Celeste Gonzalez, voter protection coordinator for the Democrats, said at a news conference announcing the hotline on Friday.
In addition to the hotline, there will be full-time voter protection staff member who will work to ensure that voting is kept open and accessible.
Jesus “Chuy” Garcia urged everyone to take advantage of their right to vote — especially for the Latino community because people of color are “under attack by the Trump administration and by their allies in places like Illinois,” the Cook County commissioner said, referencing Gov. Bruce Rauner’s comments on immigration earlier this week that drew criticism.
The governor has since tried to clarify his comments.
The hotline is partly a reaction to other states’ laws that have either mandated identification at the polls or curtailed early voting, said State Rep. Christian Mitchell (D-Chicago), executive director of the state party.
Mitchell pointed to changes to the Voting Rights Act, as well as policies in Georgia that have closed polling places in largely black areas and a flyer from a Kendall County clerk that apparently claims that a photo ID is needed to vote as acts of intentional or unintentional voter suppression.
“The Democratic Party is committed to fighting for open access to the ballot box and just because we have some of the best voting laws in the country doesn’t mean we’re going to sit back and be passive during this election,” Mitchell said.
Voters can call the 24-hour hotline at 833-VOTER18 (833-868-3718). The service is also available in Spanish.