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Illinois Secretary of State: Automatic Voter Registration Allowed Non-Citizens to Vote in 2018

AP Photo/Matthew Brown

Automatic voter registration is among Democrats’ new, far-left policy proposals, in which eligible citizens would be automatically registered to vote upon initial interaction with a government agency. Democrats argue that this proposal is dire to increasing civic participation, and eliminating barriers to the ballot box. Republicans counter with the obvious flaw in this policy, that it puts election integrity at risk. The GOP argument appears to have come true in Illinois.


Per a report from the Illinois Board of Elections, an undetermined number of ineligible, non-U.S. citizens may have voted in the 2018 midterm elections, just after the automatic voter registration was implemented state-wide. The office of  Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White conceded this failure in a statement, per WCIA (emphasis mine):

Secretary of State Jesse White’s office admitted it was at fault for the “isolated” incident, and offered assurances that the “programming error” in the state’s new automatic voter registration process has since been repaired.

Illinois law allows immigrants who are not citizens to get a driver’s license or state identification. Both state and federal law prohibits non-citizens from participating in American elections.

White’s office sent a letter to the State Board of Elections on December 18th notifying them that despite several safeguards, a programming malfunction in the agency’s electronic keypads improperly registered 574 non-American citizens to vote.

“For whatever reason that technological programming error did not properly remove the individuals,” Secretary of State spokesman Henry Haupt explained. “The individuals who are applying for driver’s license were inadvertently pooled into the automatic voter registration.”


Whatever the number of ineligible voters who were able to sidestep the system, which prohibits non-U.S. citizens or otherwise ineligible citizens from voting, this failure is alarming. The flaw in automatic voter registration policies that is often overlooked is also that voting is a right given to citizens, but is not mandatory. Opposition to automatic voter registration is not equivalent to opposition to maximizing civic participation by eligible citizens, but rather just concern for the integrity of elections. Automatically registering eligible citizens to vote impedes on that same right. Voting is a sacred privilege exclusive to citizens of our great Republic, and voting systems should be held to a higher standard of competency. 


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