2020 Election

Illinois Sued After Refusing to Disclose Statewide Voter Data

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Election officials in Illinois have been hit with a lawsuit after refusing to turn over the state's voter-roll data for inspection.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), an election-integrity watchdog, filed the complaint Monday against Illinois State Board of Elections officials. The officials, the complaint alleges, refused to provide a statewide voter file and voting history data as required under federal law. The watchdog is attempting to inspect the state's voter rolls for potential irregularities.

"Illinois has stood in opposition to federal law for too long," said PILF communications director Logan Churchwell. "The public has a right to inspect the state's voter records to ensure they are accurate ahead of the 2020 election and any time in the future."

Illinois has long been plagued with voter-roll irregularities. Earlier this year, state election officials publicly acknowledged that a "computer error" in an automatic voter registration system—which Democrats are pushing to implement across the country—led to hundreds of noncitizens being added to voter rolls. More than a dozen of those individuals cast ballots in the 2018 and 2019 elections. Chicago has also faced scrutiny over ballots cast in the name of deceased individuals. The PILF previously found 17 counties in Illinois that had more registered voters than people living in those counties.

Churchwell said an attorney for his group was only allowed to sit at a computer terminal with a search function for single registrants if they knew their name or birthdate. He added that "only politicians and the like" could have such data on every voter. On February 21, the watchdog group warned the officials they would face litigation if they did not turn over a complete data set as required under federal law. The watchdog said it initially sought access to the statewide voter information in October 2019, but never received a complete data set.

The public information officer for the Illinois State Board of Elections said the board does not comment on pending litigation.

PILF has similar litigation underway in Maine and Maryland. Delaware and Massachusetts have both granted the watchdog group access to their voter registration records.

A number of cities across the country have faced lawsuits from the PILF over their voter-roll irregularities, which include thousands of dead registrants. Allegheny County, home to the city of Pittsburgh and its surrounding suburbs, recently settled one such suit. An identical suit was filed in Detroit late last year.