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Election Denial in Illinois

  • 0 Election Deniers currently hold statewide office with election oversight power.

  • 7 Election Deniers have held, or run for, statewide office since 2020.

The landscape in Illinois

Illinois has no Election Deniers in statewide election administration jobs. So its voters can be certain their voices will be respected. But the state provides an example of how the Election Denier movement is interconnected and extremely well-funded—and threatens other states. 

An Illinois billionaire family, the Uihleins, were one of the biggest donors of the 2022 midterm cycle, according to the Washington Post. And most of that money—$1.3 million—went to candidates or committees tied to the members of Congress who voted on Jan. 6, 2021, to object to President Biden’s election victory. Two members of Congress from Illinois — Reps. Mike Bost and Mary Miller — were among the 147 who voted to overturn 2020 election results on Jan. 6 and 7, 2021.

Even though Election Deniers don’t hold statewide office in Illinois, the movement is slowing the important work of election officials. Conspiracy theorists have sent copycat letters to election officials across the state, baselessly accusing them of fraud and threatening litigation.

In March 2021, the Illinois House voted to condemn a state representative who told a crowd outside the Capitol on Jan. 6 that they were, with Trump, “engaged in a great cultural war.” The House resolution accused the representative of siding with insurrectionists and helping to incite the attack.

0 Election Deniers hold statewide Office right now.

Elections are run by the states. In Illinois, the Governor, Attorney General, and executive director of the State Board of Elections are the state officials responsible for overseeing elections. In most states, the Secretary of State is the chief election official. Illinois is an exception: The State Board of Elections appoints an executive director. It’s up to all of them to make sure the will of the people is always respected.

Read more about The Roles of Our Elected Officials in Elections

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How Illinois compares

Every state runs its own elections, with its own laws and processes. Check out how Illinois compares with other states in its region when it comes to Election Deniers holding state election administration jobs.

Election Denial in Great Lakes States

Sitting official is an Election Denier

  1. In Illinois, the Executive Director is appointed by the Illinois State Board of Elections.
  2. In Wisconsin, the Administrator is appointed by the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Voter turnout over time

Voters are always the backstop against election denial, whether Election Deniers are already in office or vying for power. It’s important to turn out for every election in your state—and to vote in every race on your ballot. Downballot races, like contests for Attorney General and Secretary of State, have historically drawn fewer voters, even though the positions are critical to keeping elections free, fair, and secure. Here’s a look at voter participation in Illinois elections over time. Notice that in years with several important positions up for election, some voters choose not to vote in every race.

Voter Participation in Illinois Since 2016

Attorney General
Secretary of State
  1. 2016 Presidential

    • President had a 62% voter turnout rate

    • Senator had a 61% voter turnout rate

  2. 2018 Midterm

    • Governor had a 50% voter turnout rate

    • Attorney General had a 50% voter turnout rate

    • Secretary of State had a 51% voter turnout rate

  3. 2020 Presidential

    • President had a 67% voter turnout rate

    • Senator had a 66% voter turnout rate

Voter turnout

Data on the number of votes cast in each race are from state elections depositories, supplemented with data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), House Election Statistics, and The Book of States. Rates are calculated using the Census’s Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) estimates. Rates will be updated when the Census releases new CVAP data for 2022.

Beyond the ballot box

Each year, state legislators introduce thousands of bills related to elections. And in the past few years, we’ve identified a concerning trend. Across the country, state legislatures are considering bills that would make it easier for partisan actors to manipulate an election, and maybe even overturn the will of the people. We’re tracking these bills along with our partners in an ongoing series of reports called “A Democracy Crisis in the Making.” In 2023 alone, through early May, we tracked 185 bills introduced in 38 state legislatures that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with elections. 

The anti-democracy playbook is simple: change the rules and change the referees, in order to change the results. These bills go hand-in-hand with the Election Denier movement: They’re about taking power away from voters and making it harder for trusted election officials to do their jobs.

Read the full report

Legislative Interference in Illinois by Category

As of May 3, 2023, 8 bills had been introduced or were under consideration in Illinois. None have been enacted or adopted and none have been vetoed after passing.

These bills show that the threat to elections in Illinois, and all across the country, goes well beyond the ballot box.

  • Imposing disproportionate criminal or other penalties.
    These bills would create or expand penalties for election officials in the ordinary execution of their jobs, including criminalizing inadvertent mistakes.
  • Creating unworkable burdens in election administration.
    These bills would interfere with the basic procedures of election administration, increasing the risk of chaos and delay and enabling misleading claims of irregularity.
  • Requiring partisan or unprofessional election “audits” or reviews.
    These bills would establish vague post-election review schemes without the professional standards of traditional audits.
  • Usurping control over election results.
    These bills would give legislators or other state officials direct control over election outcomes.
  • Seizing power over election responsibilities.
    These bills would shift election administration responsibilities away from professional, nonpartisan officials and toward partisan actors in the legislature.