Inmates at Chicago’s Cook County Jail say they are being pressured to illegally vote in the city’s mayoral election, according to a new report from Daily Mail.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, inmates have accused guards of pushing them to vote despite the fact that some are registered to vote in a different jurisdiction. Prisoners say the guards told them they were “just doing what I’m told” upon receiving orders from superiors to drive inmate voter turnout.
One inmate said guards tried to get him to vote three times.
“Because they have a paper, they have a whole listing of everybody in there,” he said. “It’s like a voting sheet with the names of who’s registered to vote and who’s not.”
The inmate explained that his name is on the list of individuals who are not registered to vote, yet prison authorities pressured him to vote anyway.
He replied, “No thank you.” But, the guard told him he could “sign up right now” if he wanted to cast a ballot.
“I said, ‘No, I’m registered in another jurisdiction; I don’t want to vote,’” the man said.
The guard responded by telling the inmate that despite him being ineligible, he could vote in the mayoral election. The inmate replied, “I’m registered in another jurisdiction, I can’t vote. That would be a federal felony.”
A Cook County Sheriff spokesman denied the videotaped allegations, stating that the jail “simply serves as a polling place, and the Sheriff’s Office has absolutely no oversight of voting operations or polling place procedures.”
He added, “Registered voters are free to choose whether they would like to vote, but no one who is not registered to vote is able to vote in an election, including Tuesday’s election.”
Voters head to the polls on Feb. 28 to cast ballots in hotly contested mayoral and city council races, which have become a referendum on incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who took office in May of 2019. Lightfoot was welcomed into office with cheers as progressives lauded her victory as Chicago’s first black, female mayor.
Since then, she’s drawn the ire of voters — and eight primary challengers — dissatisfied with the spike in homicides, shootings, looting, robberies, thefts, and burglaries that have plagued Chicago during her tenure.
Last week, Lightfoot came under fire after telling South Side voters if they don’t vote for her, they shouldn’t vote at all — a statement she has now attempted to walk back. She was also criticized for posting a graphic on Twitter encouraging Chicago residents to vote more than once in the election, Daily Mail reported.