Will County Detention Facility Offers Voter Registration and Absentee Ballots

At the urging of the New Day Employment Network (NDEN), Will County’s Sheriff Mike Kelley has partnered with the Will County Clerk’s Office to offer voter registration and absentee ballots to pre-trial detainees. Will County will be joining New York City, Chicago and other municipalities who are upholding the right for all citizens to vote. NDEN is a new nonprofit (application pending) employment agency starting in Joliet. NDEN is planning to provide preemployment training, employment placement and advocacy for people who need jobs with special attention for those who need “second chance” opportunities. The Agency Founder and Director, Pam Fort, has been orchestrating free expungement services in Joliet for the past 20 years. So making Sheriff Kelley aware of the need to institute voting in their facility was a natural social action step for NDEN to take. Originally NDEN had collaborated with the Illinois League of Women Voters to bring a team of volunteers to the Will County Detention Facility to register detainees. However Sheriff Kelley has organized an internal process to assist detainees to register that includes collaboration with the Will County Clerk’s Office and Center for Correctional Concerns, a Will County social service provider who serves the Detention Center residents. The Detention staff has obtained voter registration packets and absentee ballots for the pre-trial detainees who want to vote. When detainees register, they will also receive an absentee ballot for the upcoming November elections. Those who are already registered voters can also receive absentee ballots to vote. The detainees can then cast their vote by mailing the ballots using a no-cost envelope. NDEN is encouraging everyone who has friends and relatives in the Will County Detention Facility to use this assistance so that they can vote. The last day for the Board of Elections to receive registrations is Oct. 9; the last day for them to receive absentee ballots is November 6, 2018. Must Be Postmarked by same date. Prior to these deadlines, if there are known problems with voting at the facility, friends and relatives are asked to please report them to the NDEN Message center, phone 815-277-9802. NDEN will actively work with Sheriff Kelly to resolve them.

In the midst of so many nonpartisan voting campaigns throughout America, there are still myths and barriers about who is eligible to vote. Several celebrities and community organizations are actively working to encourage everyone to vote. All votes do matter! One gap, even in Illinois, is not providing pre-trial detainees in county jails with the ability to register and vote. Will County will be bridging that gap. Often people accused of crimes may spend several months to a few years in county jails awaiting trial and dispositions of the criminal charges against them. The United State constitution empowers all citizens with the right to vote including:

• those awaiting trial;

• those who have been released from incarceration;

• those who are on probation and parole.

NDEN believes that voting is an important demonstration of one’s commitment to their community. This is a commitment that can be built upon progressing toward successful reentry, establishing employment and other healthy connections of citizenship. Being a developing organization, NDEN needs employers who will to give people a chance to become self-sufficient. The organization especially needs transitional employers willing to provide additional support and guidance for those who may be new to the work world. Please contact the NDEN message center, 815-277-9802, to suggest employers or to contribute resources needed for adults to enter the work world.