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Republicans demand audit after series of voter registration flubs: ‘We need to get to the bottom of this’

A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office said the program does not need to be suspended and an audit is unnecessary. But he said he does not know what caused the latest error that left 1,151 registered voters classified as not registered to vote.

State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, left, and state Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, hold a news conference in Springfield on Wednesday
State Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield, left, and state Rep. Avery Bourne, R-Morrisonville, hold a news conference in Springfield on Wednesday
From BlueRoomStream

The latest electoral screw-up — mistakenly classifying 1,151 voters as not registered — demonstrates that Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s Automatic Voter Registration program needs a thorough “outside independent audit,” Republican legislators said Wednesday, dubbing the program a “complete mess.”

“They’ve been on notice for a couple months now that this is a problem, and I don’t believe the Legislature received word one about this most recent problem,” said state Rep. Tim Butler, R-Springfield.

Butler, along with fellow Republican state Rep. Avery Bourne, of Morrisonville, spoke to reporters in Springfield, where they introduced a House Resolution that would call for an outside audit of the program.

Butler said only one chamber, either the House or the Senate, would have to pass his resolution for the audit to happen.

“We need an audit, we need suspension, and we need to get to the bottom of this,” Bourne said. “It’s past time that we get this right.

Butler said he wants another House Executive Committee hearing to be held on the matter with testimony from White.

Secretary of State Jesse White.
Secretary of State Jesse White.
Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

Under the state’s Automatic Voter Registration program, people can be automatically registered to vote when they apply or reapply for their driver’s license.

A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office said the program does not need to be suspended and an audit is unnecessary.

“I don’t see the necessity of it, and I do think it’s running well, and we’re moving on,” said Dave Druker, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office.

Druker said he does not know what caused the latest error that left 1,151 registered voters classified as not registered to vote.

All the wrongly classified registered voters were attempting to apply for REAL ID licenses state officials said.

On Monday, the Illinois State Board of Elections sent out letters to the 87 local election authorities affected by the latest error, informing them of the problem and telling them to let anyone on the list vote in Illinois’ March 17 primary.

Lake County Clerk Robin O’Connor said her office had already re-registered all the mistakenly classified people from the county

“We’ve already taken care of them,” O’Connor said.

While local election authorities are moving to correct the situation, anyone who is not registered to vote can still do so in person at early voting centers or at precincts on election day.

This is not the first time there has been an issue with the automatic registration program.

In January, White’s office admitted 545 self-identified non-citizens were registered to vote after checking “no” on a question about their U.S. citizenship status on their driver’s license applications.

Of the 545 self-identified non-citizens, 16 cast ballots in elections. Secretary of State officials blamed the error on a mistake in a line of computer code.

After his office admitted the mistake, White testified in front of a state committee apologizing for the error.

“I think if this were to happen again, first I’d be fired, then we should notify the Legislature and the governor’s office,” said Nathan Maddox, senior legal advisor to the Illinois Secretary of State, at the February meeting with lawmakers.