IL Data Issue Cancels Voter Registrations for 700+ Former Inmates

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Miscommunication between Illinois’ Department of Corrections and the State Board of Elections resulted in the cancellation of the voter registrations for 774 former inmates. KHQA has more:

Another computer error is causing issues with some Illinois residents’ voter registration.

The Illinois State Board of Elections (SBE) says a data-matching error involving them and the Illinois Department of Corrections led to 774 former inmates having their voter registrations erroneously canceled.

“Matching based on information forwarded to the State Board of Elections incorrectly categorized the individuals as currently incarcerated when in fact they had completed their sentences and been discharged. The State Board of Elections has worked directly with the Illinois Department of Corrections to identify the affected individuals, whose records were among more than 126,000 shared between the two agencies between 2014 and 2019.”

The Board of Elections is rushing to contact local authorities so the issue can be addressed before early voting starts this week – though state officials are also emphasizing the availability of same-day registration and provisional voting to affected voters:

The SBE says while an inmate is incarcerated, their voting rights are suspended. Once the inmate is released, they must re-register to vote.

This includes those who are released on parole, on mandatory supervised release and on condition of electronic monitoring.

SBE reached out to each election authority affected so the registrations of those individuals can be reviewed for reinstatement by the start of early voting on Feb. 6.

“The Board of Elections and Department of Corrections are committed to ensuring this does not happen again. Both agencies are currently revising their data sharing agreement and matching parameters to avoid this error in future data exchanges. Upon identifying the potential problem in November 2019, the Board ceased sharing IDOC matches with local election authorities and began the process of identifying individuals who may have been affected by the error.”

“Because Illinois allows for voter registration on Election Day and the casting of provisional ballots for those whose registration status is in question, the affected registrants would have had the opportunity to re-register and/or cast provisional ballots at their polling places if they wished to vote in an election after the error occurred.”

Illinois’ experience, which comes as the state faces larger challenges with the state’s voter registration system, highlights yet again the importance of clear communication and mutual understanding between state and local agencies about the data used to update and verify voter registrations. Here’s hoping the state is successful in untangling the current problem and ensuring that this and other issues don’t persist into the 2020 election and beyond. Stay tuned …

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