Cook County Jail Reports the Highest Voter Turnout

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

As of June 14th, Chicago’s 24th ward, housing Cook County Jail, has the highest voter count of the 479 ballots in the 24th ward, 388 were cast in the jail in early election polling sites. This comes just two years after Senate Bill 2090 (SB 2090) became law. SB 2090 requires Cook County Jail to serve as an official polling location for those in custody and requires all other county jails throughout Illinois to facilitate a vote-by-mail chase program. In 2019, Chicago Votes, a non-partisan, non-profit organization working to break down barriers young people face to engaging in our democracy, wrote and advocated for Senate Bill 2090, Voting in Jails. In 2020, the first year the law was put into effect, voter turnout in Cook County Jail was approximately 32.9 percent in the primary, jumping to approximately 40.25 percent in the general.

“This is a dream come true for voter participation at the intersection of democracy and the American legal system,” says Jen Dean, co-executive director of Chicago Votes. “The goal was to build political power in the jail and we are doing that. The jail currently holds the most electoral power in the city of Chicago. This should be a wake-up call for elected officials to listen to the needs of those in custody.” The low voter turnout throughout the remainder of Chicago is still a major concern for Chicago Votes. “We want to see high voter turnout everywhere. When more people vote, the needs of our community members are more accurately represented,” says Stevie Valles, co-executive director of Chicago Votes. “To reach young voters throughout Chicago, we hosted Parades to the Polls™ with students from Orr and Hancock high schools; are hosting parties outside polling places in North Lawndale, Englewood, and Woodlawn; and we are out canvassing.”

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