Illinois Secretary of State

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Secretary of State of Illinois
Seal of Illinois.svg
Incumbent
Jesse White

since January 11, 1999
Term length 4 years, unlimited term
Inaugural holder Elias Kane
Formation 1818
Website Official Website

The Secretary of State of Illinois is one of the six elected executive state offices of the government of Illinois, and one of the 47 secretaries of states in the United States. The Illinois Secretary of State keeps the state records, laws, library, and archives, and is the state's vehicle registration and driver licensing authority. The current Secretary of State is Jesse White, a Democrat who took office in 1999.

Duties[edit]

The Secretary of State is the keeper of the official records, laws, and Great Seal of Illinois. These duties have remained unchanged since Illinois became a U.S. state in 1818.[1]

In addition, the Secretary of State performs other duties prescribed by law. By statute, the Illinois Secretary of State is tasked with the duty of issuing licenses to Illinois-registered motor vehicles and their drivers, effectively making the Secretary of State's office the department of motor vehicles, though that phrase is not used in Illinois. Enforcement of these duties has made the Secretary of State's office a key bureau in the enforcement of laws against driving under the influence. In addition, the Secretary of State is the Illinois State Librarian and custodian of the Illinois State Capitol. The Secretary of State also is the registrar of corporations, lobbyists, and notaries public. Illinois is one of only two states to put the secretary of state in charge of driver services, the other being Michigan.

Police[edit]

The Secretary of State Police of Illinois is a statewide police force, established in 1913; it is responsible for enforcing the laws of the Illinois Vehicle Code such as regulating businesses involved with the sale of motor vehicles and vehicle parts. Its main purpose is to protect consumers against fraud through adherence to state statutes.

The Secretary of State Police also investigates identity theft, maintains statewide vehicle inspection stations, investigates statewide vehicle thefts, provides statewide school bus regulation, enforces traffic and parking violations and provides law enforcement to all Secretary of State facilities.[2]

The Secretary of State Police also maintains the Illinois State Capitol Police force which is located on the Illinois State Capitol Complex in Springfield. Their mission is to provide complete law enforcement services to protect the assets of the State under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Secretary of State.

Facilities[edit]

The Secretary of State's office occupies three buildings of the Illinois State Capitol Complex in Springfield. Many of the Secretary of State's workers assigned to motor vehicle and licensing duties work in the Howlett Building, south of the Capitol. The Howlett Building is named after former Secretary of State Michael Howlett. The State Archives are housed in the Norton Building, southwest of the Capitol. The Illinois State Library is located in the Brooks Library, east of the Capitol, which is named for longtime state Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1950.

In addition, the Secretary of State operates 136 Driver Services license-issuing facilities statewide and maintains its own police force. Established in 1913, their duties include enforcement of the Illinois Vehicle Code on businesses regulated by the Secretary of State and maintaining public safety, traffic control and assisting other law enforcement agencies.

Office holders[edit]

The Secretary of State, to be eligible to take the oath of office, must be a United States citizen of at least 25 years of age, and a resident of Illinois for at least three years preceding the election.

Jesse White, a Democrat, is serving his fourth term as the 37th Secretary of State, the first African-American in the position and second-longest serving Secretary. Before being elected Secretary of State in November 1998, White had been an elected office-holder from Chicago since 1974.

The Secretary of State before White was George H. Ryan, a Republican from Kankakee, Illinois. He held the office from 1991 to 1999, when he became Governor of Illinois. Ryan's tenure as Secretary of State led to his downfall in the "licenses for bribes" scandal: after a major automobile accident in Wisconsin that killed six children, investigators discovered that unqualified truck drivers were receiving drivers licenses in exchange for bribes. Ryan chose not to run for re-election in 2002, and in 2006, he was convicted of fraud, including using his authority as Secretary of State to end his office's internal investigation after it discovered the scheme.

Seal of Illinois[edit]

The official motto of the state of Illinois is "State Sovereignty - National Union". The Illinois Secretary of State in 1867, Sharon Tyndale, as the keeper of the Great Seal of Illinois, had it re-engraved so that the word "sovereignty" was upside down. This 1867 seal redesign continues in use to this day, and can be seen, among other places, as the principal device on the flag of Illinois.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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