CHICAGO – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office and other elected Democrats in Cook and Rock Island Counties stymied a competing vote-by-mail program, suppressed voter turnout and harassed individuals affiliated with that program.
The Illinois Opportunity Project (IOP) believes these actions are politically motivated.
“This is a clear case of powerful politicians, including and especially Attorney General Lisa Madigan, using their offices to harass their political opponents,” said Pat Hughes, Co-founder of the Illinois Opportunity Project. “In doing so they are denying numerous Illinoisans one of their most basic civil liberties: The right to vote.”
To inform citizens about the electoral process and increase voter turnout, the Illinois Opportunity Project is leading a vote-by-mail program in seven counties, including Rock Island County and Cook County. This project is nonpartisan and is operated in compliance with all state and federal election laws, and is a common practice among many organizations during election season.
However, in recent weeks IOP has learned that its mail is being delayed and held at post offices. The Illinois Opportunity Project has received threatening phone calls and numerous demanding letters from the Attorney General’s office. For example, last week, the Attorney General’s office sent IOP a letter at 5:22 p.m. Thursday, October 27th with a lengthy and invasive list of demands, and ordered that IOP respond by noon the next day.
Demands from the Attorney General’s office throughout this correspondence included:
Detailed information about individuals submitting applications.
· The dates on which vote-by-mail correspondence was sent in each county, as well as future plans to send mailers in Illinois, including the dates and addresses of future mailings.
· A requirement that the Illinois Opportunity Project allow an escort from the Attorney General’s office to accompany them when delivering vote-by-mail correspondences to various county clerk’s offices.
· Samples of each mailer, including all pages, inserts, and envelopes of the mailer, as well as an identification of the post office box in each county to which the applications have been directed.
· Proprietary information about procedures and processing of the mail. In particular, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office asked: does IOP open the mail and does it deliver originals of mailed materials to the clerk’s office?
· A demand that the Illinois Opportunity Project preserve all records related to the vote-by-mail program.
In addition, the Democrat state’s attorney and the Democrat County Clerk in Rock Island County, who are working directly with the Illinois Attorney General’s office, have publicly and falsely accused the Illinois Opportunity Project of voter suppression. The Illinois Opportunity Project believes they are doing so to assist Democrat Candidates in the upcoming election.
IOP has not been notified of any wrongdoing, charges or pending investigation by any official, including the Illinois Attorney General, and believes these actions by the Illinois Attorney General’s office and other public officials is politically motivated.