UPDATE 8/17/18: Governor Rauner issued an amendatory veto on HB 4469. Read more here.
Everyone should know that they can vote. While Illinois law allows individuals who are not convicted of a crime to vote in jail, the ability of those being detained to vote varies widely between jails across our state. Many of the 20,000 people detained before their trials do not have access to vote – even though they are eligible. Of the almost 4 million people with a past felony conviction in the state, many do not know that they are eligible to vote.
If Illinois citizens with records don’t know their rights, they are much less likely to exercise those rights. Many are told, or incorrectly believe, that they simply have lost the right to vote for life. It is critical to have all populations engaged in the democratic process.
HB 4469 expands voter access and education efforts in Illinois jails by directing county jails and election officials to establish a process that allows detainees awaiting trial to cast their ballots during elections. Additionally, counties with a population over 3 million would be able to establish a temporary polling place in county jails. For those being released HB 4469 would also direct the Illinois Department of Corrections and county jails to provide a voter registration application and detailed information about their voting rights, including notification that that their voting rights have been restored, to any person in custody eligible to vote.
By increasing voter access for pre-trial detainees and educating people with criminal convictions of their right to vote in this state, this bill increase voting amongst pre-trial detainees and the formerly incarcerated. Research indicates that re-enfranchising people with criminal convictions cuts the rate of recidivism. By providing individuals with a voter registration application and a know your rights guide tailored to individuals with a record upon release from their custody, as required by this bill, the Illinois Department of Corrections and the county jails will help these populations successfully re-enter into society.