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State Week: Harmon Elected Senate President; Automatic Voter Registration Applied To 500 Noncitizens

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Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois

State Sen. Don Harmon is now president of the Illinois Senate. Meanwhile, state officials say more than 500 non-citizens were inadvertently registered to vote.

Harmon was elevated to the top job over his colleague Sen. Kimberly Lightford, who will remain in her No. 2 role as Majority Leader. He reportedly won an initial, secret vote among Senate Democrats by a count of 22-17. After hours of negotiations, he emerged with unanimous support.

Also this week, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White's office revealed that a computer glitch had inadvertently, automatically registered as many as 545 non-U.S. citizens to vote. The office stresses that the problem was in software at the state's drivers' services facilities, and not fraud on the part of the people who were registered.

Reportedly just 15 of the people registered are thought to have actually cast ballots, and at least three of them are in fact U.S. citizens who checked the wrong box on a keypad at a secretary of state's office. Nevertheless, Republicans and Democrats are demanding answers and have called for legislative hearings on the matter.

Sean Crawford hosts with regular panelists Charlie Wheeler and Brian Mackey, and guest Rebecca Anzel of Capitol News Illinois, a cooperative news service created by the Illinois Press Foundation.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
The former director of the Public Affairs Reporting (PAR) graduate program is Professor Charles N. Wheeler III, a veteran newsman who came to the University of Illinois at Springfield following a 24-year career at the Chicago Sun-Times.
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