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Illinois State Board of Elections: “Illinois primary election still on”

Monday, Mar 16, 2020

* Press release…

Dear Editors and Reporters:

With Ohio announcing today that it is postponing its primary, which had been scheduled for tomorrow, I wanted to let you know that Illinois is proceeding with plans for tomorrow’s primary as scheduled.

As of today we have had 504,000 early votes cast and 294,000 mail ballots sent to voters. The day before the 2016 primary, those numbers were 400,000 and 160,000 respectively. With early voting continuing today, we likely will see a substantial increase when early voting sites close. We along with the state’s 108 local election authorities had been encouraging early voting for several weeks and in the past two weeks had increased our efforts so voters could vote early and avoid lines and crowds on election day out of concern for coronavirus.

Those efforts appear to have been successful as we will undoubtedly set new records for early and mail voting for a primary election.

We have worked with the Illinois Department of Public Health to make sure local election authorities have proper guidance for coronavirus safety in their polling places. We have provided polling place signage (attached) to local election authorities to alert voters and poll workers to best practices for preventing the spread of coronavirus. Local election authorities have, when necessary, consulted their local emergency managers for help in obtaining sanitizing supplies for their polling places.

Illinois has seen hundreds of polling place location changes in the past week and we have made every effort to keep our online polling place lookup database current so voters can find accurate information on where to vote. In many cases involving cancellations last week, election authorities were able to contact affected voters by mail to alert them to new polling places. In addition, many local election authorities are facing the additional challenge of election judges canceling. Local election authorities are going to great lengths to recruit replacements, including increasing judge pay in some cases. Please check with your local election authority for specific details.

As to the question of why Illinois is going forward with Tuesday’s election, there are several factors to be considered. As already noted, much of the voting for this election already has been done. Also, at this point there is no date in the foreseeable future when we can expect greater safety with any certainty. Taking action to move to an all-mail ballot system, as has been suggested by some media members, fails to take into account the needs of many disabled voters who are unable to cast paper ballots by mail.

To be clear, the State Board of Elections does not have the authority to change an election date. Doing so would require action by the General Assembly to amend the Illinois Election Code or a court order. We have no intention of seeking such an order nor has any other state official indicated that intent.

With Gov. Pritzker having ordered the closure of restaurants in Illinois as of tonight except for carryout service, we want to point out that in-person voting is a comparable transaction to picking up a takeout restaurant order or shopping at a grocery store. There is no need for close contact when requesting a ballot from an election judge and Illinois does not require voters to show ID; a voter’s signature compared to the signature on record is proof of identity. Primary voting typically is a swift transaction that can be done at a safe distance from other voters.

We understand that this election presents voters with the difficult task of weighing civic duty with the safety of themselves and others. We believe that by following guidance from our state and federal health professionals, voters can vote safely at early voting sites today and at polling places tomorrow.

Thank you for you attention to accurate reporting of this rapidly unfolding situation. Please follow our Twitter feed at @illinoissbe for continued updates.

I will make every effort to return calls and emails but at this point the volume is too great so you may receive future mass briefings like this one.

Matt Dietrich
Public Information Officer
Illinois State Board of Elections

- Posted by Rich Miller        

67 Comments
  1. - SWIL_Voter - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 3:17 pm:

    Completely bananas. We can’t even get enough election judges to work the things in the midst of this


  2. - Southern Illinois Mayor - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 3:19 pm:

    Unacceptable.


  3. - Please quarantine - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 3:21 pm:

    How does this square with the limit on gatherings?


  4. - Pundent - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 3:24 pm:

    I guess the simple answer is, if you’re overly concerned about this don’t vote.

    My polling place at best never seems to have more than 5-10 people in line and with the number of people off of work I expect that it will be staggered.

    The IDPH seems to be taking the right steps to minimize the risk. And for those that deem this to be unacceptable, you might not want to go into a grocery store or Target right now. I had no choice, kids need milk. But the conditions in those places are going to be far worse than what you’ll encounter at the polls tomorrow.


  5. - Hamlet's Ghost - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 3:26 pm:

    Apparently Ohio Governor DeWine can’t order this either. He needs to go to court.


  6. - Responsa - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 3:31 pm:

    Every candidate on the ballot will have credible means to argue that the primary election was not properly conducted. My polling place which covers multiple precincts does not have even close to adequate judges available for coverage and relief periods tomorrow.


  7. - DIstant watcher - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 3:35 pm:

    Ohio does not have an early voting system remotely as robust as Illinois’.

    Any of the other posters who want a delay can go to court if they really think they have an argument, but there are plenty of opportunities to vote and there is no authority to extend balloting.


  8. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 3:35 pm:

    === Every candidate on the ballot will have credible means to argue that the primary election was not properly conducted===

    Based on… what?

    Voters can choose to vote, or not.

    It’s a fair and free election.

    The damage you are doing by suggesting otherwise is a continuation of the damage going on to tear down governing, governing that is now needed to help with the Coronavirus,

    The hyperbole isn’t honest to the question you each resolved.

    Be better


  9. - Archpundit - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 3:41 pm:

    Deciding to change the election the day or two or three days before is too late. It will cause as much chaos as it avoids. The pandemic hit at the wrong time and we just have to muddle through. That said, planning for future disasters/pandemics should include ways to switch to vote by mail.


  10. - SWIL_Voter - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 3:43 pm:

    Be better? I don’t even have enough election judges to open the polls. I have young kids with asthma. Forcing us to exercise our rights only at risk of death is not in any way reflective of a free society


  11. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 3:47 pm:

    === Be better?===

    Suggesting the challenges here are also “ok” because it’s “helpful” for those in power is not the best way to then sell fair and free elections are the going to happen.

    To your personal situation, including the election judge shortage… my hope for your family is different than my thoughts on the election, thru procedure, the stopping or postponing the election will be almost impossible given 17 hours only exist before polls open.


  12. - Rutro - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 3:47 pm:

    Ok w/ decision, or at least I understand, but ban politicking/palm cards & order people in line to separate by 6 yards. The line still moves the same speed.


  13. - Ashland Adam - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 3:59 pm:

    This is the right decision. Get this election over with. My neighborhood early vote site was busy. But people all seemed respectful of the process, waited a few moments, voted and were out.


  14. - Retired and Loving it - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:01 pm:

    The Feds say gatherings less than 10 only. It takes nearly that for one precinct . contain voters. Many polling places have multiple precincts which would put them way over the limit. I know a lot of older Judges have cancelled, there will be a lack of Judges for sure.


  15. - JB13 - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:03 pm:

    – Also, at this point there is no date in the foreseeable future when we can expect greater safety with any certainty. –

    No date conceivable in May? June? July? August?


  16. - yinn - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:06 pm:

    In-person voting might be like a “takeout transaction” but in-person registration often is not.

    I wonder if the rules for curbside voting might be stretched so fewer people actually go inside the polling place. That’s assuming, of course, you have enough judges to do it. My county just lost 2 of its 3 election day registration centers. I don’t know if the venues declined to allow it, or if the election authority has had to reassign judges to other polling places due to shortages.


  17. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:06 pm:

    =- JB13 - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:03 pm:=

    1) The Democratic National Convention is the middle of July

    2) no one knows how far and wide this pandemic will be. Will we be in triage mode like Italy?


  18. - Anon - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:06 pm:

    Pritzker could have pushed for postponement a week ago or more. That’s on him.


  19. - Tawk - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:11 pm:

    Utterly reckless.


  20. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:11 pm:

    === pushed for postponement a week ago or more===

    We’re on a lockdown of sorts starting tomorrow for two weeks… then it’s still wait and see.

    So now what?


  21. - Pundent - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:15 pm:

    =Pritzker could have pushed for postponement a week ago or more. That’s on him.=

    Oh please. A week or more ago we were being told that this was just a hoax, overblown by Democrats and the media, and people could go to work even if they were sick.


  22. - product of the '60's - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:16 pm:

    Believe correct decision mad. Perhaps should have added another hour or so on. This is a PRIMARY, numbers never as high as general. Having served as an election judge ( not working this yr ) for over 5 years only time people were bunched up close together was when Obama on ballot. Plus, early voting is far more accepted now.


  23. - Angry Republican - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:18 pm:

    The gov should assign time slots for voters to show up at polls - last name starting with A votes a 7, B 7:30, etc. That will spread people out. Not a perfect solution, but better than nothing.


  24. - Kevin Gosztola - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:23 pm:

    I am an Illinois resident, who is a co-organizer of a petition that was signed by over 100 medical professionals. They are relieved to see Ohio reschedule in-person voting for June 2. They are likely very disappointed that Illinois will not take the step necessary to reschedule in-person voting.

    Illinois can do as Ohio is doing and go to court. They can file a lawsuit on behalf of voters, who will be disenfranchised on March 17. They are simply refusing to do so.

    Also, Illinois is hiring high school students to work polling places, and they are giving Illinois residents the false sense that they will be safe from contracting the virus because they are not the elderly people who typically staff polling places. But the simple fact is that anyone who is young may be carriers of the coronavirus and not show symptoms. There is no way to guarantee these high school students will not get people sick on March 17.

    We will have to wait to find out later in March if anyone becomes severely ill or dies because the Illinois state government made this choice.


  25. - Rich Hill - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:24 pm:

    This week’s events do offer an excellent opportunity to consider best practices for the November election given the very real possibility that the United States will still be dealing with this public health issue in the fall. How much advance planning would a shift to an Oregon-style vote-by-mail standard entail?


  26. - Archpundit - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:25 pm:

    ===Having served as an election judge ( not working this yr ) for over 5 years only time people were bunched up close together was when Obama on ballot. Plus, early voting is far more accepted now.

    A lot of people are also working from home so the busiest times of the day won’t be as busy this time. It’s also why having a contingency to vote by mail in the fall would be smart.


  27. - wayward - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:28 pm:

    Champaign County had an emergency effort to get younger, less vulnerable people to step up as election judges so that the older people who often served wouldn’t have to deal with the exposure. So far, looks like they’ve filled the slots.


  28. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:28 pm:

    - Kevin Gosztola -

    Governor DeWine, in part…

    “… said his office does not have the power to unilaterally change the voting date, but the governor outlined a process involving the courts that can allow…”

    Nothing is set in stone, or changed.

    === They are relieved to see Ohio reschedule in-person voting for June 2.===

    This is not a done deal.


  29. - Anon - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:31 pm:

    =Oh please. A week or more ago we were being told that this was just a hoax, overblown by Democrats and the media, and people could go to work even if they were sick.=
    But Pritzker keeps mentioning how obvious this was to him and why he acted so proactively. Except for this.


  30. - Original Rambler - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:43 pm:

    I doubt voting tomorrow will expose anyone any more than going to the supermarket. I could see a court possibly ordering a central voting location to remain open for a time Wednesday if there are any problems tomorrow.


  31. - @misterjayem - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:57 pm:

    “Pritzker could have pushed for postponement a week ago or more. That’s on him.”

    And you could have simply ordered a vote by mail ballot a week ago or more. That’s on you.

    – MrJM


  32. - Sue - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 4:58 pm:

    Original- courts are closed


  33. - SouthSide Markie - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 5:07 pm:

    Restaurants, bars, schools, etc. and all mass gatherings of people are outlawed. But we tell people to gather in mass tomorrow for Election Day? I’m seeing campaign workers passing palm cards at early voting stations today. Imagine tomorrow. The hypocrisy is un-nerving.


  34. - SouthSide Markie - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 5:09 pm:

    Sorry. Meant to add this: NYC didn’t find re-scheduling the 9/11/2001 election day to a later date. Why do we?


  35. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 5:19 pm:

    “…election authorities were able to contact affected voters by mail to alert them to new polling places.”

    Um….no, they didn’t.


  36. - Jay Kay - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 5:25 pm:

    I attempted to vote by mail as I have done for the last 3 or 4 elections. The Cook County Clerk’s website said my information could not be found and to call to verify my information. I called several times and got stuck in an automated loop. I eventually gave up and voted early. I hope others did not have the same problem I did.


  37. - Concerned Voter - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 5:28 pm:

    Holding a Primary during a time the Governor is ordering anyone over 60yrs old or immuno-comprimised to STAY HOME is Voter Suppression, PERIOD. Do the right thing, Governor Pritzker. Postpone the IL Primary as other states have done. PLEAS. ALL IL voters would have access to voting. It’s our constitutional right.


  38. - Huh? - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 5:42 pm:

    This afternoon, voted early. There was a line, people being respectful of separation. Waited about 10 minutes.


  39. - Original Rambler - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 5:58 pm:

    Sue, not true. There is always a judge available to hear emergency matters. Always. Regular court business is what’s been suspended.


  40. - Soccermom - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 6:06 pm:

    I am kicking myself for not ordering a mail-in ballot. I was dealing with client emergencies on Friday.

    But I am about to skip voting for the first time in my adult life. Soccerdad had heart surgery in August, and I am doing everything I can to make sure he’s around to vote Trump out in November.

    (Please note: Every marital squabble from here on in will end with the, um, trump card: “I skipped VOTING for you.”)


  41. - Southern - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 6:08 pm:

    And you could have simply ordered a vote by mail ballot a week ago or more. That’s on you

    Try looking at this without your liberal glasses. This is voter suppression, even you should be able to see that.


  42. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 6:09 pm:

    === liberal glasses===

    (Sigh)… yeah “ok”

    === This is voter suppression, even you should be able to see that.===

    Tell that to Florida.


  43. - ArchPundit - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 6:43 pm:

    ===Every marital squabble from here on in will end with the, um, trump card: “I skipped VOTING for you.

    LOL. Keep him well.


  44. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 6:43 pm:

    Unless an appeal…

    Elections in Ohio.


  45. - tinyDancer(FKASue) - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 6:43 pm:

    Hubby and I got our ballots in the mail today. Too late for me - I early voted today, but my husband is high-risk and was going to skip voting, so I’m happy.
    FYI: the ballot envelopes did not show up today as scanned mail on USPS Informed Delivery.


  46. - Pundent - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 6:53 pm:

    =This is voter suppression, even you should be able to see that.=

    Allowing people to vote is voter suppression? Wow. That’s some Jedi mind trick.


  47. - 47th Ward - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 7:11 pm:

    I’m voting in person tomorrow and I can just fill out an extra ballot for you, Soccermom. Happy to help.


  48. - Southern - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 7:12 pm:

    Allowing people to vote is voter suppression? Wow. That’s some Jedi mind trick.

    Telling people (voters) to stay home, and avoid gatherings of several people but still having an election is voter suppression. If you want a Jedi mind trick, make IDs mandatory to vote tomorrow to make sure no one is voting for an elderly person that followed the governor’s message and stayed home. You will suddenly be against the election tomorrow.


  49. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 7:18 pm:

    === Telling people (voters) to stay home, and avoid gatherings of several people but still having an election is voter suppression.===

    LOL

    … and yet there’s been weeks of early voting, enough time too… to get a mail ballot.

    Good try. No.

    === make IDs mandatory to vote tomorrow to make sure…===

    Make sure your straw man is made better next time.

    You have to do better than this. It’s a pandemic, but not voter suppression.


  50. - Southern - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 7:43 pm:

    You have to do better than this. It’s a pandemic, but not voter suppression

    Pick a lane, do you want people to take the Governor’s advice to stay home or not? A lot of people expected the Governor to make the responsible decision and postpone the primary. Just like schools, restaurants, bars, and voters have to do with their lives during this pandemic. He chose politics before the safety of voters and election authorities.


  51. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 7:55 pm:

    === Pick a lane==

    No lane to pick.

    Friend, you want this to be a conspiracy, it’s an election. Suppression is not letting people choose to vote, suppression is removing folks from the rolls or enforcing IDs or a poll tax

    Unless statutorily you can change the date, it’s not happening.

    Nope.

    Instead of pretending you’re for a righteous straw man, you could take time to figure out how you, and others, vote safely.

    You’re pretending you’re an aggrieved party, be party to working to let folks know they can and should vote.

    I have family and friends in high risk groups, all groups, I’m no different than anyone. Also, i want them safe. Voting is important. Getting “cheesy fries” and eating at a restaurant is not the same as the vote.

    There were weeks of early voting, vote by mail.

    No one was suppressed from that too.

    Ask the civil rights champions of the 1960’s about voter suppression.


  52. - Pundent - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 8:07 pm:

    Voter suppression would be taking away someone’s right to vote or throwing uncertainty into the process by allowing some to vote (early and by mail) and others to possibly vote at some future unknown date that may or may not happen.

    This is about making choices. Some activities will continue some won’t. That’s not suppression, that’s being smart. It’s the same reason the gas stations and pet stores are still open.


  53. - Anonanonsir - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 8:36 pm:

    Low turnout benefits entrenched pols and party insiders.
    So of course it’s full steam ahead.


  54. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 8:44 pm:

    Why do you think the biggest defender of the status quo thinks its great


  55. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 8:48 pm:

    === Why do you think the biggest defender of the status quo thinks its great===

    Explain Florida and Arizona.

    You’re not good at this.

    Pick a name… or go on Facebook with your tin foil hat.


  56. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 9:02 pm:

    =Low turnout benefits entrenched pols and party insiders.=.

    Even better is a canceled election that can’t get rescheduled with any certainty.

    And if you think cancelling an election on its eve is easy and without consequence or confusion look to Ohio. Or make it easy and follow Florida and Arizona.


  57. - Mike - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 9:07 pm:

    https://www.dispatch.com/news/20200316/coronavirus-ohio-election-is-up-in-air-despite-judgersquos-ruling


  58. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 9:28 pm:

    Governor DeWine lost his credibility to the laws and constitution of the state of Ohio

    It’s in defiance of a court order.

    There’s not much more you can say.


  59. - Southern - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 11:13 pm:

    And if you think cancelling an election on its eve is easy and without consequence or confusion look to Ohio. Or make it easy and follow Florida and Arizona.

    Or cancel it last week when the schools were cancelled. He had no problem giving business owners short notice. It isn’t about cheese fries like mentioned above. He had no problem dramatically changes lives of taxpayers to reduce the curve, except for the election. This isn’t even a Democrat or Republican issue. It is the same old story in Illinois where politics rules the day.


  60. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 11:31 pm:

    === Or cancel it last week when the schools were cancelled. He had no problem giving business owners short notice.===

    In Illinois, the Governor has no authority to postpone an election.

    In Illinois, a governor by statute can do *exactly* what the governor did with businesses. Keep up.

    === He had no problem dramatically changes lives of taxpayers to reduce the curve, except for the election. This isn’t even a Democrat or Republican issue.===

    Your ignorance to the law isn’t any better when you double down, LOL

    The elections are set by statute. The process to change the date was not in play.

    ===It is the same old story in Illinois where politics rules the day.===

    … except if your too ignorant to understand statutes and the law, you “pound the table”.

    The election *is* tomorrow, it’s legal date to happen.


  61. - Southern - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 11:52 pm:

    In Illinois, a governor by statute can do *exactly* what the governor did with businesses. Keep up.

    I’m keeping up just fine. I live in the world that you read about on a computer screen. He couldn’t do many of things he proudly claims as accomplishments without pushing things through the legislature. There was no effort to do that here. He put politics before the safety of voters. He didn’t even try. Chaos or not in Ohio, at least there was some sort of effort. Make sure J.B. gives you a treat before he takes you off the leash and lets you back in the house.


  62. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Mar 16, 20 @ 11:59 pm:

    ===I live in the world that you read about on a computer screen.===

    The “I know” argument. lol. The guy at the end of the bar, “I know”

    ===He couldn’t do many of things he proudly claims as accomplishments without pushing things through the legislature.===

    60/30 signature. Same as it ever was. That’s how governing works… in everyone’s world.

    === There was no effort to do that here. He put politics before the safety of voters.===

    There weren’t 60 or 30 to stop it. Even the President says it should go on… so all y’all so bent on following him, he says it should go.

    Oh… after you’re done yelling at the Tee-Ver, all the things in “your world”…

    Rich has a whole post on the Governor’s power. It’ll help in your keeping up;

    https://capitolfax.com/2020/03/16/where-do-pritzkers-emergency-powers-come-from/

    The election is 6 hours away.


  63. - Southern - Tuesday, Mar 17, 20 @ 12:09 am:

    The “I know” argument. lol. The guy at the end of the bar, “I know”

    Bars are closed as of 9pm. The Governor doesn’t want any groups of people to flatten the curve. Keep up.

    Unless it is political


  64. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 17, 20 @ 12:12 am:

    5 hours, 50 minutes.

    Polls open.

    How’s that?


  65. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Mar 17, 20 @ 12:14 am:

    Read that post Rich has, move on.

    I fed you.


  66. - Southern - Tuesday, Mar 17, 20 @ 12:24 am:

    Read that post Rich has, move on.
    I fed you.

    Not everyone that has a different view than you is a troll on this site. Despite the difference of opinion- if you go out in this crap tomorrow- be safe


  67. - SouthSide Markie - Tuesday, Mar 17, 20 @ 1:11 am:

    == Read that post Rich has, move on. ==

    I read the post. And the entire Act. Which provides the Governor with the power to:

    “To control ingress and egress to and from a disaster area, the movement of persons within the area, and the occupancy of premises therein.”

    As Rich points out, the entire State is a disaster area. The cited provision gives the Governor power to control movement throughout the State and the occupancy of buildings. The plain language of the statute which allows him to control movement within and occupancy of businesses allows him to control the ingress, egress and occupancy of polling places on Election Day. Controlling occupancy of polling places by postponing the election would be an exercise that is necessarily or fairly implied in or incident to the power conferred to the Governor by the statute.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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