CHICAGO (Illinois News Network) — A new municipal ID designed primarily for illegal immigrants will be accepted in Chicago as a valid form of identification to register to vote.
The CityKey will be a government-issued photo identification card available to all Chicago residents regardless of immigration status, criminal record, housing status, or gender identity, according to the city clerk’s website.
State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich says the final call on what documents to accept rests with local officials.
“There are 109 local election authorities in Illinois,” Dietrich said. “They’re the ones who actually handle the registration, the checking of IDs, and keeping the documentation. We maintain an electronic database of voter registrations that we get from them.”
Dietrich says there is no state requirement to prove citizenship while registering to vote. He’s not expecting a surge in potential voter fraud cases because the process will remain the same.
“When you go to register to vote, you do check a box that attests to your citizenship,” Dietrich said. “You are signing a legal document that says, ‘Yes, I am a citizen.’ But no one who registers to vote is required to bring in, for example, a birth certificate or other proof of citizenship. That’s something that you check the box, and you attest to it.”
Dietrich believes the penalty for illegally registering to vote is steep enough to discourage those who might be considering it.
“The main thing that would happen is deportation,” Dietrich said. “If you’re not a citizen, and you have any thoughts of ever attaining citizenship, registering to vote is almost an instant trigger that when you apply for citizenship, you will be deported. That’s one of the first things they check.”
Chicago officials will accept a long list of documents from residents to establish their identities. Current driver’s licenses and state IDs will be valid, as will expired foreign passports, foreign driver’s licenses, high school or GED diplomas, and more. Dietrich says given the information he has seen, it appears the Chicago commissioners are making the right call.
“I believe, from what I’ve read, the Chicago municipal ID would live up to the qualifications under state statute for what a government-issued ID is. So that would be a legal form of ID for the board of elections to accept.”
In addition to a photo identification, CityKey also will serve as a library card and transit card in Chicago. City leaders also are working with cultural institutions, sports teams, and local businesses to offer discounts and benefits for card holders. Officials say the card could offer the most appeal to illegal immigrants, the homeless or those recently released from prison.