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EDITORIAL: The epic overreaction of Rep. Jeanne Ives and Ald. Anthony Napolitano

Then-gubernatorial candidate Jeanne Ives and Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41st) held at a March news conference slamming Mayor Emanuel's new CityKey ID. | Erin Brown/Sun-Times

Jeanne Ives, a Republican candidate for governor, and Ald. Anthony Napolitano want you to think that undocumented immigrants will stand in line eagerly with “CityKey” ID cards to break the law by registering to vote.

They want the cards barred as an acceptable form of identification to register to vote. Ives, a state representative from Wheaton, is drafting legislation to do it.

Disallowing the cards from voter registration would do no harm to undocumented immigrants, but it could disenfranchise homeless people, transgender folks, victims of domestic violence and ex-offenders re-entering society. They are much more likely than immigrants to sign up for voter rolls with the ID cards that soon will become available to all Chicagoans.


Ives’ vitriol hits Chicago with a double whammy: She portrays undocumented immigrants as criminals looking to game elections as she tries to undermine voting rights for marginalized Americans in Chicago. We can’t say we’re surprised by Ives. Remember, this is the same person who played to her hard-line conservative base by airing an anti-immigrant commercial that also disparaged transgender people.

The “CityKey” cards are meant to help people, including undocumented immigrants, gain access to some city services, such as transit and the library. For vulnerable Americans, they also will help them to sign up to vote.

Immigrants, though, cannot vote unless they become naturalized citizens. That’s not new in America. Ives and Napolitano, who represents the 41st ward on the Northwest Side, act as if there is a widespread problem of voter fraud being committed by immigrants. In fact, across America, it is rare.

In Illinois, undocumented immigrants are eligible for drivers’ licenses. That hasn’t led to immigrants voting illegally. San Francisco has issued municipal ID cards to undocumented immigrants since 2009 and has not had trouble with people voting fraudulently.

Foreigners — those who are properly documented as well as the undocumented — risk being imprisoned and deported if they vote. That’s a pretty big deterrent to voting illegally. It always has been.

Ives and Napolitano shamefully act as if they don’t know it.

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