CHANGE Illinois Action Fund testifies on legislation to protect voters

CHANGE Illinois Action Fund Testimony:

Support HB4668 to ensure voters are protected 

March 5, 2024

Illinois House Ethics and Elections Committee

To: Chair Maurice West, Vice-Chair Katie Stuart, Republican Spokesperson Patrick Windhorst and members

From: Ryan Tolley, Executive Director, CHANGE Illinois Action Fund


Thank you, Chair West, Vice-Chair Stuart, Republican Spokesperson Windhorst, and committee members for providing me with the opportunity to testify about the importance of protecting voters through HB4668. My name is Ryan Tolley and I am the Executive Director of the CHANGE Illinois Action Fund and CHANGE Illinois. Both are nonpartisan nonprofits that champion equitable democracy, ethics and efficiency in government and elections in Illinois. Through research, education and advocacy, We work to achieve an Illinois with ethical and efficient governments, including fair maps and ballots and vibrant elections.

I am here on behalf of CHANGE Illinois Action Fund to advocate for the passage of HB4668 to ensure that voters are not unnecessarily put in harm’s way and that those who wish to use voter data lists to harass voters will be held accountable and no longer able access voter lists in the future. 

The legislation is also supported by the Just Democracy coalition that represents a diverse group of organizations across the state that helped bring Automatic Voter Registration to Illinois and has long advocated to make voting more accessible to Illinoisans. 

Why now? 

In two recent court rulings (Illinois Conservative Union v. Illinois State Board of Elections and Public Interest Legal Foundation v. Bernadette Matthews), a federal court ruled that Illinois law governing how the public can access voter lists is not in compliance with the National Voter Registration Act. (NVRA) Prior to the ruling, if anyone outside of a political committee or government wanted to access voter information they would be required to view that information at a state facility and would not be allowed to duplicate or make copies of that list. 

In the wake of that decision, there’s been no updates to Illinois law to provide guardrails and safeguards for voters. 

What can we do to protect voters? 

By passing HB4668, lawmakers can bring Illinois statute into compliance with the NVRA while ensuring voters are not unduly put in harm’s way by restricting sensitive and private information. The bill reinforces that public access to voter lists are for bona fide election purposes and requires that anyone requesting electronic copies to attest that the list will not be used for commercial purposes, harassment, intimidation, and cannot be put online and available to the public. 

The bill protects sensitive information including email addresses, birth days, birth months, Illinois drivers license numbers, Illinois identification card numbers, street addresses number, voter signatures and social security numbers. The bill does not allow for people residing outside the United States to request the list. 

The bill ensures transparency by requiring the Illinois State Board Elections to publicly disclose who requests the lists and prohibits future access if a requester violates the terms of access. 

It requires that public requests be centralized through the Illinois State Board of Elections to ensure uniformity and transparency with how lists are requested and access is granted. 

We believe that it is vitally important to clarify and put guardrails in place for accessing voter lists prior to the 2024 election. In Illinois and across the country, election authorities are being flooded with requests to share information on voters by people who want nothing more than to falsely discredit our elections. We have to ensure that we take action to protect Illinois voters and do not unnecessarily put them in harm’s way.

I am happy to answer any questions that committee members may have about HB4668. 

Best regards, 

Ryan Tolley 

Executive Director

CHANGE Illinois Action Fund