Cook County Jail detainees awaiting trial vote in Illinois primary for 1st time

CHICAGO (WLS) -- For the first time, detainees awaiting trial are casting their early ballots for the Illinois March primary at Cook County Jail.

The jail opened as an official polling place on Saturday.

"It's good to know that I have some type of voice on what's going on and what affects me," said voter Sean Allen.

Rev. Jesse Jackson has been fighting for the cause for years.

Over 500 inmates cast their early vote Saturday, along with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton.

"We are making sure that county jails have a process for voting and have established this polling place at the Cook County Jail," Stratton said.

To give equal access to the ballot box, every county jail throughout the state will also make vote-by-mail available to those detained pretrial.

Every Cook County Jail building that houses inmates on Chicago's Southwest Side have machines and election judges.

Professors from local colleges and universities even volunteered their time to break down the candidates and their platforms.

Rev. Jackson hopes giving pretrial detainees the right to vote in Illinois will also impact other states to adopt the process.
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