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574 Non-Citizens Were Registered to Vote Under Illinois' AVR System. Lawmakers Aren't Happy.

Peoria Public Radio/Kristin McHugh

Illinois Republicans are calling for an immediate hearing after 574 non-citizens were registered to vote through the state's automatic voter registration system. 

Automatic voter registration was implemented in July 2018. The most common venue for automatic registration are the DMV offices run by Secretary of State Jesse White. 

Illinois State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich said the Secretary of State's Office registered the people getting non-REAL ID driver's licenses even though they checked a box indicating they weren't citizens. 

Of those 574 mistakenly registered, 16 people illegally cast 19 ballots. One of those ballots was cast in Peoria County 2018 General Election.  

Local election authorities were notified last month.

Lawmakers, including Rep. Ryan Spain (R-Peoria) and Tim Butler (R-Springfield), are calling for testimony from White, state election officials, and others before the March primaries. 

“We unequivocally support full access to voter registration,” said Butler in a statement. “That is why we voted for the AVR program in 2017. However, the potential registration of non-citizens has been a concern since discussions of instituting an AVR program in our state began. This revelation underscores that these concerns are well-founded. There must be no question of the integrity of our elections process, but this situation certainly calls into question how the AVR program has been implemented in Illinois.”

The AVR law was signed by former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2017. 

State Sen. Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) said he wants a "gaugable plan of action" from White's office to avoid future errors. 

Secretary of State Senior Legal Advisor Nathan Maddox wrote to Illinois State Board of Elections Executive Director Steve Sandvoss that the glitch has since been fixed. The 574 people mistakenly registered were also notified. 

The story was first reported by blogger Diane Benjamin. 

Copyright 2021 WCBU. To see more, visit WCBU.

Tim Shelley is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.