Illinois Secretary of State almost accidentally registered 16-year-olds to vote

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Thousands of Illinois teenagers under the age of 18 were cued up in the state’s automatic voter registration system, according to a spokesman at the Illinois State Board of Elections.

“Those were caught and blocked,” elections board spokesman Matt Dietrich said in a text message. “We sent 4,700 letters to the applicants saying they weren’t old enough [to vote]. Then, we discovered the reason was the same problem as the citizenship issue.”

Secretary of State Jesse White’s office came under fire in recent days after a discovery that it had allowed nearly 600 non-citizens to register to vote, and roughly a dozen non-citizens actually cast a ballot in recent elections. White’s office blamed the blunder on a computer glitch in electronic signature keypads at DMV locations where people sign up to get their driver’s licenses.

“They started AVR,” Dietrich explained, “then checked ‘no’ on the box asking if they would be 18 at the next election, but their AVR was not terminated and the [applications] came to us. That was something we could easily catch because the date of birth was on the voter application.”

The Secretary of State’s office has not yet returned calls seeking a comment.

Illinois Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady issued a statement in response to the error, saying, “The Illinois Secretary of State needs to suspend the AVR program until all glitches, known and unknown, are fixed.  There clearly also needs to be an independent investigation into how these glitches occurred, why they were unreported and what can be done to ensure this never happens again.  Our vote is our most cherished right in a democracy, and even just one illegal vote can tarnish the credibility of the entire system.”

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