Chicago Lawyers' Committee Submits Testimony for Two Key Voting Rights Bills

Yesterday, Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and partner organizations submitted testimony before the Illinois House Elections & Campaign Finance Committee in support of two important bills under consideration: SB 2273 and HB 4469.

These bills respectively aim to end Illinois' reliance on the Crosscheck program, and to expand access to the ballot for eligible voters who are either in pre-trial detention or recently released from incarceration.

Both bills have been passed out of committee and now move to the full House for a vote.

SB 2273 Ends Illinois' Participation in Crosscheck 

This bill would limit Illinois from sharing voter information with any interstate voter registration program other than the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) – moving towards ending Illinois’ participation in Crosscheck.

Our testimony, submitted jointly with Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, Chicago Votes, Common Cause Illinois, and Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), makes the case for ending Illinois' reliance on Crosscheck, which poses unacceptable risks and hidden costs to the voting rights of citizens in Illinois and nationwide, as well as the integrity of the non-partisan election process.  ERIC, which offers a more secure system than Crosscheck for the gathering and management of voter data and provides better oversight, promises to reduce these threats.

HB 4469 Expands Voter Access in the Criminal Justice System

This bill would expand and protect voter access by requiring Illinois jails and election authorities to ensure that pre-trial detainees can cast their ballots during elections, and to provide released eligible voters with detailed information about their voting rights.

Illinois has one of the largest populations of individuals in pretrial detention in the nation, with  about 20,000 people detained in jail pretrial across the state. The vast majority of this population has the right to vote - yet they face serious barriers to the ballot. Our testimony incorporates statements from incarcerated community members, students of DePaul University’s Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program class who are currently being taught by Dr. Christina Rivers of DePaul University.

The right to vote is precious. These bills protect and strengthen the cornerstone of our democracy. They deserve the full support of our elected officials and our communities.