State Capitol (April 24, 2018) State Rep Juliana Stratton, who is also the Democratic candidate for Lt Governor, sponsored House Bill 4469 (HB4469) which would establish a voting process within the Cook County jail for people being held in pretrial detention.
The basic idea is that while convicted felons lose their right to vote, people who are in jail awaiting trial are not felons, prior to a conviction. HB 4469 passed out of the Illinois House of Representatives 64-37-1 with bipartisan support and will now move onto the Senate.
If signed into law, Cook County Jail will become the first jail in history to become an official polling location.
Additionally, HB4469 requires each election authority and jail across Illinois to run an election process in their jails. Chicago Votes has been entering the jail monthly, through their Cook County Jail Votes program, registering voters and coordinating election implementation.
Chicago Votes held conversations with thousands of eligible voters behind bars, hundreds that did not know they have the right to vote. These conversations led to the drafting of the legislation along with Illinois Justice Project, Sargent Shriver Center on Poverty Law, and ACLU of IL.
HB4469 will also require each voter be provided with a “Know Your Voting Rights” guide upon release from all Department of Corrections and ensure that each person transitioning into the re-entry process is given a voter registration form, getting them back on the voter rolls.