Chicago Hosts First Jail-Wide Voting Process For Inmates

Chicago has established the first jail-wide, in-person voting process for inmates, ensuring their ballots for early voting would count.

The process happened at Cook County Jail Saturday (Mar. 10), with volunteers from the organization Chicago Votes, ABC7 reports. According to Illinois state law, those who are in police custody awaiting trial, on parole or probation and who’ve completed their sentence can vote. Only those convicted of a crime and felons are barred from voting.

The information while public, isn’t known to those with past convictions. With 94 percent of the inmates at Cook County jail able to vote, volunteers set up ballots for the state’s early voting for the Gubernatorial primary election set for March 20.

Rev. Jesse Jackson also supported the process in a statement. “There is no excuse not to vote in this important election,” he said. “If you want change, use the power of your vote to make it a reality… We no longer have a Bull Connor or George Wallace standing in the door of opportunity or threatening bodily harm. There is no excuse not to vote.”

In February, The Chicago Tribune reported state representative Juliana Stratton proposed temporary ballots in county jails for those eligible to vote. The Democrat, who is also the lieutenant governor candidate, will also like to have prisoners released from jail receive notifications if their right to vote is restored.

So far, Cook County and Lake County are the only jails in the state that allow detainees to vote through absentee ballots.