Illinois election authority wants voters' personal information removed from media websites

The birth dates and addresses of hundreds of Rockford voters have been published, possibly in violation of Illinois Election Code.

Since late March, the State Board of Elections has received calls from Illinois voters saying that their personal data had been published on websites operated by Local Government Information Services, a self-described “media watchdog” based in Lake Forest.

The media group operates 20 websites and 11 print publications geared toward specific cities, such as the Rockford Sun. and similar publications in other cities in Illinois.

The data showed which voters in specific precincts did or did not vote in the 2020 presidential election.

The State Board of Elections said it did not provide data to the media group for the stories.

Under state statute, political committees registered with the State Board of Elections are entitled to purchase the the election authority's voter data file for “bona fide political purposes,” but they are prohibited from using the data for other business purposes. In January 2018, in an effort to further protect the personal data of voters, the board of elections stopped providing voters’ dates of birth in the voter file provided to political committees.

Through communications with a representative of the media group, the board of elections believes the company combined 2016 and 2020 data sets for its voter stories. It used a copy of the 2016 voter file to obtain the birthdates and many of the street addresses it has published.

The state board believes the media group gained access to the 2016 voter file because at that time it was affiliated with a political committee, Liberty Principles PAC, that funded its operations.

After complaints were filed with SBE regarding the PAC’s financial reporting in 2016, Liberty Principles PAC ended its financial support of Local Government Information Services.

More: The Sun appeared across Rockford pre-election. Now that polls have closed, is it gone?

The state board does not know how the media group obtained the 2020 voter data. The board also has confirmed that some of the published voter information is inaccurate.

So far, Local Government Information Services has resisted the state board's requests to remove the personal data from its sites.

“While LGIS may arguably have had legal access to the voter data when it was being financed by a political committee, any semblance of legality ended when the relationship with the PAC was severed in 2016,” said SBE Executive Director Bernadette Matthews.

The State Board of Elections said it has contacted the Illinois Attorney General’s Office about potential legal action.

The State Board of Elections is an independent state agency charged with the responsibility of having general supervision over the administration of election laws of the State of Illinois. Elections are administered locally by the state’s 108 election authorities.

Chris Green is a Rockford Register Star general assignment reporter. He can be reached at 815-987-1241, via email at and Twitter @chrisfgreen.

This article originally appeared on Rockford Register Star: Illinois Board of Elections may take legal action against Rockford Sun