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Technical Error Registers Hundreds of Non-Citizens as Voters in Illinois

(Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

A technical error resulted in more than 500 non-U.S. citizens being registered to vote in Illinois, sparking criticism of the state’s automatic voter registration system among state lawmakers and election authorities.

The “programming error” in a signature pad at driver services facilities was resolved on Tuesday, but it remains unclear whether any of the non-citizens who were accidentally registered attempted to vote in the meantime. The Illinois State Board of Elections found that 16 illegally registered people may have voted last year and in 2018, possibly during the midterm congressional elections. Voting illegally could result in deportation.

“While this represents only 1/10 of one percent, it is still not acceptable, and we apologize for the error,” Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White said in a statement. “On the same day the programming error was confirmed it was fixed and won’t happen again.”

“We quickly notified the Illinois State Board of Elections along with the 574 people impacted – all of whom are in the country legally,” White added.

Since 2017, Illinois has required the state’s citizens to be automatically registered to vote upon applying for or renewing a driver’s license or ID card.

Republican Representative Rodney Davis is now working with Republicans in the state legislature to address the “integrity of Illinois elections,” the Illinois State House GOP said in a tweet.

“We view it as a significant problem,” said Matt Dietrich of the Illinois State Board Of Elections, adding that individuals who check the non-citizenship box should never have been registered as voters. “The way that that’s supposed to work and the reason that box is there is that if someone checks that, they are instantly excluded from the automatic voter registration system.”

Illinois state lawmakers have demanded a “zero tolerance policy” for voter fraud and an investigation into the Secretary of State’s office. They have also called for the auto-registration system be suspended.

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