Tuesday, October 19th: Chicago Votes Hosting Press Conference on Senate Bill 828, Voting in Prison

To kick off the 2021 veto session, advocates, lawmakers, and formerly incarcerated people speak on the importance of passing Senate Bill 828 (SB828), restoring voting rights to people in prison.

For Immediate Release

October 14, 2021

Press Contact

Katrina Phidd, 612-710-1962, katrina@chicagovotes

WHEN: Tuesday, October 19, 2021 at 11am CT

WHERE: The Lincoln Statue in front of the Illinois State Capitol, Springfield, IL

WHO: Representative La Shawn Ford, Representative Edgar Gonzalez, Representative Joyce Mason, Senator Mike Simmons, Brian Harrington, a formerly incarcerated organizer and activist, Ami Gandhi, attorney at Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, Avalon Betts- Gaston, project manager at Illinois Alliance for Reentry and Justice.

Springfield — Chicago Votes will host a press conference on Tuesday, October 19th at 11am CT by the Lincoln Statue outside of the Illinois State Capital to raise awareness and call on lawmakers to pass SB 828, Voting in Prison, during the fall veto session. The Illinois Constitution states that a person in prison “shall lose the right to vote, which right shall be restored not later than upon completion of his sentence.” The exact length of disenfranchisement is not specified. However, the Illinois Election Code specifies the length, prohibiting any person that is serving a sentence of confinement in any penal institution from voting throughout the duration of their sentence. SB 828 repeals the Election Code provisions and restores the right to vote to people 14 days post-conviction.

Advocates and lawmakers will speak to the importance of a democracy representative of all people, including those currently in prison. Illinois currently incarcerates roughly 30,000 people. Fifty-five percent of whom are Black and 43 percent of whom are under the age of 35. Disenfranchising people in prison disproportionately silences young, Black community members and perpetuates further injustice in our carceral systems.

Brian Harrington, Chicago Votes’ civic leader manager explains the urgency of a conversation on voting rights for people in prison. He states, “Given the rate of wrongful imprisonment and biased sentencing, taking away someone’s right to legally speak out against these issues through their vote, is inherently wrong. As a formerly incarcerated person who has first-hand felt the devastation that comes from the disenfranchisement of low-income, Black and Brown individuals, I believe that stripping the voice away from an American citizen because he/she/they reside inside of an institution is not right. We have the opportunity to correct this, ensuring all U.S. citizens, over 18, have the opportunity to vote.”

SB 828 is sponsored by Representatives La Shawn K. Ford, Kelly M. Cassidy, Joyce Mason, Sonya Harper, Mark Walker, Theresa Mah, Lakesia Collins, Bob Morgan, Margaret Croke. And Senators Mike Simmons, Melinda Bush, Jacqueline Y. Collins, Julie A. Morrison, Elgie R. Sims, Jr., Cristina Castro and Robert Peters. Their support is a part of a nationwide effort to end felony disenfranchisement joining Maine, Vermont, and Washington D.C. in allowing people in prison access to the ballot.

Chicago Votes is a non-partisan, non-profit organization working at the intersection of activism, education, and politics in order to make democracy more inclusive, just, and accessible. The organization is advocating for SB 828, Voting in Prison.