01312018KS0933 rState Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) released the following statement today after Gov. Bruce Rauner’s State of the State address:

“It’s easy for the governor to give an empty speech about working together in a bipartisan fashion, but he has shown time and time again that he is unwilling to reach across the aisle.

“His words ring hollow because he has acted more like a politician than a governor for the last three years, and only now has he decided to act like a bipartisan executive.

“He once again took credit for accomplishments that weren’t his own. He praised the historic school funding reform that he initially vetoed and is still trying to keep from being implemented.

“If he truly wants to follow through on those bipartisan promises, he will need to do his job this year and work with members of both parties to put forward a balanced budget.”

011516CMPAN2 rSPRINGFIELD —State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) released the following statement today following the news that Senator Donne Trotter is retiring.

 “I was lucky enough to call Senator Trotter not just my colleague, but also my mentor, my roommate and my friend. He supported me in replacing Barack Obama in the Senate when it was not popular in Springfield to do so, and I have benefited from his advice and support ever since. His intelligence, dedication and compassion will be sorely missed in the Senate.”


Winter is in full swing, and the City of Chicago provides several warming centers for those seeking shelter from the cold. See the flyers below for a list of centers and for information on cold weather safety.

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crosscheck 113017 resizedCHICAGO – The Illinois State Board of Elections will no longer be allowed to share sensitive voter information with a controversial voter registration system under a new law introduced in the state senate.

Senate Bill 2273, sponsored by State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) and cosponsored by State Senator Bill Cunningham, would prohibit the state from sharing any voter information with any interstate voter registration program other than the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC).

In doing so, the state’s participation in the controversial Interstate Voter Registration Data Crosscheck Program would be halted. Crosscheck, which was pioneered by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is seen by many as nothing more than an attempt to keep minorities from voting.  

Senator Raoul has made his opposition to the racially-biased program clear, calling for the state to cease using it at once.

“Crosscheck can be used to knock valid voters off the rolls, and it disproportionately impacts minority voters, who are more likely to share last names and be flagged by the system,” Raoul said. “That flies in the face of the voter protection policies we have embraced in Illinois.”

Earlier this month, a joint committee heard testimony from Shawn Davis, a faculty member at the Illinois Institute of Technology Center for Cyber Security and Forensics Education. Davis testified that the Crosscheck system has several security concerns that make private personal information easily accessible.  While most websites handling sensitive information use secure file transmission networks called SFTPs, Crosscheck uses an unsecured network system.

Senator Cunningham says the state should address these concerns by leaving Crosscheck to protect voter information.

“There are far too many concerns with Crosscheck’s security and intent,” Cunningham said. “It is time for the state of Illinois to stop using this flawed system and focus on programs that are more secure.”

Illinois began using Crosscheck in 2010 when no other alternatives existed. Since then, ERIC has been developed by states concerned over the security of the personal information that is shared with such programs.

State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Tinley Park), Chairman of the Illinois Senate’s sub-Committee on Cybersecurity, has continued to investigate the 2016 State Board of Election security breach.
“Based on testimony from the Illinois State Board of Elections, it is evident that Crosscheck is an inferior program that makes the citizens of Illinois’ personal information susceptible to hackers,” Hastings said. “The right to vote is a fundamental component of our nation’s democratic values.  It’s our duty to protect voters’ personal and sensitive information and promote impartial and honest elections.”

Under state law, the State Board of Elections is required to use ERIC while participation in Crosscheck is voluntary.

voting booth rSPRINGFIELD —  State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) and State Senator Bill Cunningham plan to introduce legislation ending Illinois’ participation in the controversial Interstate Crosscheck system.

Despite calls from state and national legislators to withdraw from the program, the State Board of Elections voted Monday to remain in the national voter registration database.

“If the Board of Elections will not act to protect Illinois voters, then it is our duty as legislators to do so,” Raoul said. “The right to vote is sacred, and citizens in our state should know that their information is secure when they cast their ballot.”

At a joint hearing of the House Elections Committee and the Senate Telecommunications and Information Technology Committee last week, legislators heard testimony on security concerns with the system.

Shawn Davis, a faculty member at the Illinois Institute of Technology Center for Cyber Security and Forensics Education testified that the Crosscheck system uses an unsecured network system. Most websites handling sensitive information use secure file transmission networks called SFTPs.  

“The risk of exposing the personal information of millions of Illinois voters to an Equifax-style data breach is not worth the small benefit of remaining in the Crosscheck system,” Cunningham said. “This should not be a partisan issue — it is a data protection issue and it must be addressed immediately.”

Additionally, many voting rights activists say that Crosscheck is a vehicle for discrimination at the voting booth. This is because Crosscheck compares first and last names of state voter databases, ignoring middle names and designations like Jr. or Sr. This is viewed as problematic by experts because communities of color are more likely to share last names, making them easy targets for voter suppression.

The Illinois Board of Elections currently subscribes to two national voter database systems designed to help election authorities identify voters who may be registered in more than one state: Crosscheck and the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC). This legislation will remove Illinois from the Crosscheck system but allow the state to remain in ERIC, widely viewed as the better system.


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State Sen. Kwame Raoul new 'it guy' in Springfield

Chicago Tribune

For more than a year after he was appointed to fill then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama's seat in the Illinois Senate, Kwame Raoul did all he could to avoid contact with his predecessor.
He would not call Obama for advice unless he absolutely had to. He skipped public appearances where the two might run into each other or, worse, be photographed together.
"I had a sense early on that people, probably including Barack, were concerned about whether I was trying to coattail on his success," Raoul said. "And I was really sensitive about that."
Nearly seven years later, Raoul finds himself the new "it guy" in Springfield. He has led high-profile Democratic pushes to ban the death penalty, reform pensions, overhaul the state's workers' compensation system and redraw legislative boundaries.
Even some Republicans want a piece of him. House Republican Leader Tom Cross appeared with Raoul last month to promote legislation that would require schools to adopt policies regarding concussions and head injuries for athletes.
"People think I am crazy," said Raoul of his workload, which he says sent him to the hospital twice in the last year with stress-related heart arrhythmia. "I don't want to just be down there saying, 'I'm a senator.'"
The 46-year-old son of Haitian immigrants first became interested in politics while an undergrad at DePaul University during the Council Wars in the 1980s. After Mayor Harold Washington's unexpected death, Raoul joined thousands of protesters outside City Hall as aldermen held a tumultuous meeting that eventually saw Eugene Sawyer chosen as mayor.
Raoul, who wanted then-Ald. Timothy Evans as mayor, wound up being hours late for his job as a bill collector so he could pass out "No Deals" signs at the rally.
"I subsequently got fired from a job I wasn't very good at and didn't like, but I remember going home and watching the council proceedings and thinking, 'Wow, we've got to do better than this.'"
Raoul twice ran and lost for alderman against Toni Preckwinkle, who's now the Cook County Board president. She eventually became an ally and backed him for Obama's state Senate seat in 2004 — against Obama's wishes at the time.
Raoul has a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law and a year ago went to work in the Chicago office of Michigan-based Miller Canfield. The firm, which also employs Paul Durbin, son of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is serving as an underwriters' counsel on a $3.5 billion bond sale the state issued in January 2010.
Raoul said he's never made any calls to help the firm secure state business and voted present Wednesday on a bill that would provide tax credits for Continental Tire, which he said the firm represents. The bill passed.
"I try to be careful and make sure the firm isn't doing anything that could get me in trouble," said Raoul, who added that he is learning about municipal financing so he can help towns and cities with bond deals.
Raoul's signature achievement was pushing through a death penalty ban that few expected to pass.
"I was very surprised when he told me he had enough votes," said Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago. "And that's because it was a very individual, personal type of vote. Those type of bills come along once in a career."
For now, Raoul said he plans to run for his Senate seat next year.
"There's a lot of room out there to serve. I don't want to be one of those people that is trying to hold on to power beyond my time," said Raoul, who added he's not worried if he loses. "For me there's enough stress, there's enough time away from my kids and family."