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Chicago Creates Its First Mobile Voting Unit — And Puts It In The Cook County Jail

By  Emily Zanotti

A program to encourage voting in Chicago has established an outpost to help those who might not make it to the polls register their vote in the Illinois primary — and it’s in the Cook County jail.

According to a local Chicago ABC affiliate, volunteers organized the voting outpost to help give those trapped in the criminal justice system the ability to vote, even if they might not be back on the outside in time. According to the group, which includes community activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, 94% of Cook County inmates are in jail on misdemeanor charges, or have yet to be convicted of felonies, making them eligible to vote.

Each division of the jail was outfitted with its own bank of voting machines. Since early voting has already begun in Illinois, most inmates have already registered their choice for local Congressional representation.

Illinois is a party-restricted primary state, which means you must pull a ballot in line with your party registration. Although that option should be open to inmates of the Cook County jail, it’s highly likely nearly everyone inside the institution will pull a Democratic ballot, a clear advantage for organizers’ favorite candidates.

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