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A Falsehood About Chicago’s CityKey ID Cards

Quick Take

Viral social media posts have revived a false claim regarding a Chicago ID card program. The CityKey cards do not allow noncitizens to vote; that is still illegal.

Full Story

Before Chicago rolled out a new municipal ID program last spring, some erroneously purported that the CityKey IDs would allow noncitizens to vote.

That false claim has resurfaced online in recent weeks through viral posts on Facebook.

“Chicago now has City ID Cards which allow illegal immigrants to vote in local, state & federal elections (which is illegal),” the posts read, before going on to accuse Democrats of “colluding with foreigners to interfere in our elections.”

That premise is wrong.

The CityKey program officially launched in April 2018, about a year after Chicago’s City Council authorized it. City officials said the new, optional IDs, available regardless of immigration status, would be of use to noncitizens, the homeless and other groups that may otherwise face difficulty accessing government IDs. The IDs allow cardholders to sign leases, obtain marriage certificates and access discounts in the city, and they double as transit and library cards.

It’s true that they can also be used to register to vote. But the city’s Board of Election Commissioners pointed out in a March 2018 statement that voter-registration applications require applicants to attest that they are U.S. citizens. The applications also note potential fines and penalties if false information is provided.

“By law, non-citizens may NOT register to vote or cast a ballot in any local, state or federal election conducted by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners,” the statement said.

City officials have repeatedly said that the CityKey ID program does not change that. In other words, it has no effect on state or federal laws requiring that voters be U.S. citizens.

Separately, Chicago Public Schools do hold their own elections for Local School Councils — bodies that represent each school — and noncitizen parents have been permitted to participate in that process since the 1980s.

But noncitizens would be committing voter fraud if they used a CityKey ID to vote in any local, state or federal election conducted by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on the social media network.


2018 Local School Council Election Guide.” Chicago Public Schools. Accessed 8 Mar 2019.

Byrne, John. “Chicago ID card would be valid voter identification.” Chicago Tribune. 16 Feb 2018.

Chason, Rachel. “Non-citizens can now vote in College Park, Md.” Washington Post. 13 Sept 2017.

Chicago City Council. “O2017-1950, Amendment of Municipal Code Title 2 by modifying Sections 2-12-010 and 2-160-065, and adding new Section 2-176-010 regarding establishment of Municipal Identification Card program.” (as passed by City Council 19 Apr 2017.)

Chicago CityKey.” Chicago Office of the City Clerk. Accessed 7 Mar 2019.

City Clerk Valencia and Mayor Emanuel Officially Launch the Chicago CityKey Program.” Press release, Chicago Office of the City Clerk. 26 Apr 2018.

Hayduk, Ron and Michele Wucker. “Immigrant Voting Rights Receive More Attention.” Migration Policy Institute. 1 Nov 2004.

Spencer, Saranac Hale. “Noncitizens Get Narrow Access to Polls in San Francisco.” FactCheck.org. 26 Jul 2018.

Statement regarding IDs that may be used for voter registration.” Press release, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. 21 Mar 2018.

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“Chicago now has City ID Cards which allow illegal immigrants to vote in local, state & federal elections"
Wednesday, March 6, 2019