As of late, it feels as if states are making it harder and harder for people to exercise their right to vote. The state of Illinois, at least, seems to be doing quite the opposite.
The Washington Post reports that the Cook County jail will operate as a polling precinct for the first time for the March primaries. The state of Illinois only withholds the right to vote from those currently serving sentences and restores them as soon as they are released. A law passed by Democratic Gov. J.B Pritzker last August requires all jails in Illinois to allow its 20,000 pretrial detainees to vote.
These efforts included sheriff Tom Dart, who oversees the jail, working with Chicago’s public television station to create two-minute videos that outlined the local candidates’ positions and inviting educators to teach civics to the inmates. The group Chicago Votes has visited the jail 11 times and has registered almost 1,500 inmates to vote. Of the jail’s 5,700 inmates, 95 percent of them are still awaiting trial. Voting will occur in the weekends leading up to the March 17th election across the jail’s gyms, chapels, law library, in addition to other designated areas.
This is a nice change of pace following stories of people having to spend hours in line due to insufficient polling stations. Hopefully, should this endeavor prove successful we will see more instances of this across the country. Technically speaking, detainees still have their right to vote if they have yet to be sentenced to a crime. The lack of polling stations or any kind of system being put in place has too long limited a segment of the population from exercising their constitutional rights. The ideal is that everyone who can vote and wants to should easily be allowed to. If only it was an ideal that GOP policymakers believed in.