Young People Lead the Charge to Expand Voting in Illinois

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Chicago Votes Action Fund brings together young, driven Chicagoans who are ready to get their hands dirty and learn the grassroots basics of our democracy. It is committed to educating, training, and empowering the next generation of Chicagoans and has designed its programs to act as a springboard for young leaders to enter the life of political and public service. Thanks in part to support from Voqal, Chicago Votes Action Fund was able to successfully engage young people in an effort to expand voting to those awaiting trial in the Illinois criminal justice system.

Chicago Votes Action Fund worked to increase awareness of the Voting in Jails bill (SB 2090) through robust volunteer engagement. In the days after discovering that the Voting in Jails legislation might not be voted on, it rallied its volunteers to call and tweet at members of the general assembly to express their support of the bill and urge others to keep the positive momentum moving forward. It was ultimately successful in its efforts to pass this important legislation and establish the Cook County Jail as the first jail in the country to become a polling place.

But Chicago Votes Action Fund’s work didn’t stop there. In order to ensure these valuable victories led to increased voting access for those in the criminal justice system, it coordinated voter registration efforts in the Cook County Jail, and trained partners to help expand the voting program to jails across the state. In addition, with continued support from funders like Voqal, it hopes to work with college professors to bring civics education to the Cook County Jail year-round, bring a pledge-to-vote system to the Cook County Jail, and further develop a network of partners across the state to support peer educators in prison.

At Voqal, we believe an engage and empowered public is vital to creating a more socially equitable world. Organizations like Chicago Votes Action Fund and its work to engage young people in the effort to expand voting are a great example of what is needed to create this public. We are proud to support Chicago Votes Action Fund and look forward to its continued efforts to make voting easier for all of the people of Illinois.