Despite being presumed innocent, many of the more than 400,000 unconvicted people held in jail pretrial did not have access to voting on Election Day in 2018. Some larger jails, such as Rikers Island in New York City, hosted voter drive efforts, but most did little to support the right to vote of people incarcerated in their facilities.Gloria Pazmino, “City to Launch Voter Registration Effort in Rikers Island,” Politico, August 6, 2018.
The Illinois legislature in 2018 passed HB 4469 with bipartisan support, a bill that would have required jails to make voting and voter registration available to detained people and provide education about voting rights after their release.Illinois HB 4469 (2017); and Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Civil Rights and Voting in Illinois (Washington, DC: US Commission on Civil Rights, 2018), 11. But Governor Bruce Rauner in August indicated he wouldn’t sign the bill unless the legislature removes certain provisions on voter education.Illinois HB 4469, 2017; Eric Althoff, “Illinois Governor Vetoes Voting Rights Bill,” Correctional News, August 31, 2018; and “ACLU Laments Governor’s Amendatory Veto of Bill to Expand Voting Rights,” ACLU, August 17, 2018. Legislators refused to make the change, effectively rendering the bill dead.Illinois HB 4469, 2017. The Illinois Department of Corrections and Illinois Sheriffs’ Association both had supported the measure.Althoff, “Illinois Governor Vetoes Voting Rights Bill,” 2018.