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Republican leaders not enthused about statewide vote by mail

Friday, Apr 3, 2020

* Press release

Senator Morrison (D-Lake Forest) will soon file a measure to further expand Illinois’ vote-by-mail program. Illinoisans would have the option to forego traditional polling places and cast their ballot from the comfort of their home. Under the proposal, each registered voter would be mailed a ballot, which would then be returned to the county elections office and counted on Election Day.

However, this does not preclude in-person voting opportunities on and/or before Election Day.

* The governor has already said he’s open to changing Illinois laws on vote-by-mail. Greg Hinz followed up with the four legislative leaders. The two Democrats seemed at least somewhat supportive. Senate President Don Harmon has long supported ideas like Morrison’s.

House Speaker Michael Madigan’s spokesman said he would “support emphasizing that method in November.” Madigan has so far resisted a statewide mail program unless some standards can be set. As we’ve discussed, different counties treat them differently. Some are more persnickety about signatures, some toss out ballots for minor clerical issues, etc. Also, Madigan does his own VBM program for Democrats.

The Republicans were not enthused

“Ballot access in Illinois has and will continue to be strong. There is no need to change this November’s process,” House GOP Leader Jim Durkin said in a statement relayed by his spokeswoman, Eleni Demertzis. She added, “The Ds already have all the advantages they need. Just not sure what additional mail ballot provisions we can undertake as any voter can currently request a mail ballot for no reason.” […]

“There will be a time to discuss that in the future,” [Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady] said in a statement relayed by his spokesman Jason Gerwig. “Right now our focus should remain on rebuilding our economy and containing the COVID-19 virus.”

Another prominent Republican, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, said such a change could well help Democrats because elderly people, who tend to vote Republican, are more comfortable with the current system.

“But it may be necessary, he added. “I think we have to prepare for the possibility that people’s behavior is going to change.”


Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments
  1. - Proud Sucker - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 12:56 pm:

    Oregon has been doing this for TWENTY years. This is not reinventing the wheel, it like finally adding steel belts to the tires.


  2. - Bertrum Cates - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 12:58 pm:

    Fascinating to see their confidence in what used to be a GOP wheelhouse.


  3. - Dysfunction Junction - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 12:59 pm:

    Unless someone out there has a crystal ball and can say _for_sure_ that we will not be under quarantine in November, then preparing for a vote-by-mail option is an absolute necessity. We are not living in normal times.


  4. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:06 pm:

    === Another prominent Republican, DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin, said such a change could well help Democrats because elderly people, who tend to vote Republican, are more comfortable with the current system.===

    lol… Chairman Cronin, that’s some seriously funny stuff.

    Here’s the logic… there’s not suppression going on and more voters mean bad news for Republicans…

    No.

    … no, it’s that… wait for it… seniors… it’s senior citizens… they won’t vote at normal levels… because mail.

    Chairman Cronin… explain how the GOP tries to empathize absentee ballots… by seniors… by mail… since… forever?

    Cripes, I dunno if it’s more comical or dishonest.


  5. - Jibba - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:13 pm:

    I didn’t vote in the primary for the first time in forever, but it came on too suddenly for me to get an absentee ballot. I’d be glad for a mail in election. I think many seniors, including my parents, would love it.


  6. - thunderspirit - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:14 pm:

    For some reason, the GOP always seems opposed to getting more people voting.

    Why, it’s almost as though tacit voter suppression is part of their plan or something.


  7. - TNR - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:16 pm:

    If I were legal counsel to either Republican caucus or to chairman Cronin, I would urge them never to mention partisan advantage when it comes to a voting rights issue. Could come back to haunt them in court someday.


  8. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:18 pm:

    ===Thoughts? ===

    If everyone votes, they lose. They know they lose.

    Not everywhere, but in any place where they don’t have the certainty of winning.

    They have also been remarkably transparent about this fact over the years as they have continued their efforts across the country to limit the access to ballots.

    Given everything that is occurring, asking everyone to vote by mail and then mailing them a ballot to do so could destroy their party, especially as communities have the consequences of the national leadership of the GOP rocking their communities.


  9. - Amalia - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:19 pm:

    they either want people to expose themselves to a health danger or not to vote. there is not another option.


  10. - Big Jer - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:21 pm:

    If I am reading this post right:

    In Illinois the Republicans are upset because a mail in ballot may favor Democrats.

    But:

    In Wisconsin the current dust up is that Democrats are worried that mail in/absentee ballots will favor Republicans.

    We welcome you to another episode of; As the Absurd World of Politics Turns!

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/election-2020/ct-coronavirus-wisconsin-presidential-primary-election-covid-19-20200403-ew6bitvlafe55nk5rt3tkg5lvq-story.html#nt=msftsearch

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/election-2020/ct-nw-wisconsin-primary-election-20200402-dha2suhbevhxbgl7jdfohauenq-story.html#nt=msftsearch


  11. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:22 pm:

    Let’s discuss this;

    ===“ The Ds already have all the advantages they need. Just not sure what additional mail ballot provisions we can undertake as any voter can currently request a mail ballot for no reason.”===

    Welp, the reason is a pandemic and preparing for any possibility in 2020. All possible solutions… at the appropriate time these discussions can happen… should be a thought.

    I dunno why this is even in the discussion…

    “The Ds already have all the advantages they need.”

    What that sentence says is… vote by mail is an advantage to politics… and not a way that more voters can participate. It also says this manner to run elections is inherently an advantage to a party. That’s lazy to process, and if the Republicans aren’t organized enough to get a GOTV through mail, that’s solely on the GOP.

    If both Chairman Cronin and the statement of the House Minority Leader are concerned about losing in the future because of vote by mail, I might say the reason the former GOP, now Raunerites, are worried about losing ain’t because of vote by mail…


  12. - ArchPundit - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:27 pm:

    I’m not sure the argument that voting by mail may allow more people to vote and hurt my party is the strong argument they think it is.


  13. - Alex - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:30 pm:

    The Brennan Center for Justice has great recommendations for making election adjustments in the wake of COVID. Check it out on their website: https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/policy-solutions/how-protect-2020-vote-coronavirus


  14. - Commonsense in Illinois - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:30 pm:

    This is Illinois…What could possibly go wrong?


  15. - RNUG - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:33 pm:

    I’m with MJM here. Expanding vote by mail would be fine if you have consistent standards, and a method of notifying voters before election day if their ballot signature wasn’t accepted. It’s easy to prove who you are in person to your neighbor acting as an election judge, harder when all they have is a signature.

    And these senior voters have been more than capable of doing absentee voting in the past …


  16. - The Captain - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:33 pm:

    I don’t care for it as a method, of all the ways to vote it’s my lowest personal preference, but I understand it as a potential necessity and we should probably start getting prepared.

    I do worry that it opens up some security issues. How easy/hard is it to send fraudulent ballots to voters? How easy/hard is it to send fraudulent-looking completed ballots to county clerks? I think these issues can be thought through and managed but I would strongly encourage the legislature to start thinking about subject matter hearings (can you do those remotely?) on the steps needed to secure that process.


  17. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:35 pm:

    === What could possibly go wrong?===

    Apparently “nothing” goes wrong…

    === Just not sure what additional mail ballot provisions we can undertake as any voter can currently request a mail ballot for no reason.===

    We have vote by mail already. No one is saying things will go wrong, they are saying Democrats have an advantage if it went vote by mail only.

    === I’m not sure the argument that voting by mail may allow more people to vote and hurt my party is the strong argument they think it is.===

    It’s like the same argument that the pandemic with those having health insurance and those without health insurance will be a negative to the progressive income tax.

    It’s like policy logic to the politics suddenly vanished to the partisan prisms?


  18. - Excitable Boy - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:42 pm:

    - unless some standards can be set. -

    LOL, from the guy whose had the most influence on shaping legislation here for the last half century.

    Madigan is against statewide VBM period, because he doesn’t get to control the mailing universe.

    Republicans ought to stop trashing the guy so much, he’s probably the only reason this wasn’t done years ago.


  19. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:47 pm:

    Security has nothing to do with it, like the first comment pointed out it’s been done in several states for years with no problems. Ensuring low turnout is why they don’t want vote by mail:

    https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/490879-georgias-gop-house-speaker-says-vote-by-mail-system-would-be-devastating


  20. - Practical Politics - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:53 pm:

    In Illinois the Republicans are upset because a mail in ballot may favor Democrats.

    But:

    In Wisconsin the current dust up is that Democrats are worried that mail in/absentee ballots will favor Republicans.

    @Big Jer:

    Demographics matter. That’s the difference.


  21. - Pot calling kettle - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 1:57 pm:

    === What could possibly go wrong?===

    If you are worried about voter fraud, this s actually a better system, because each registered voter gets exactly one ballot. It reduces shenanigans like someone going door-to-door collecting requests and then, maybe, losing a few. Or, some folks sending out request forms to selected voters while everyone else is on their own.

    If you are a registered voter, you get a ballot and a return envelope at your home address.


  22. - Rich Miller - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 2:08 pm:

    ===because each registered voter gets exactly one ballot===

    Except in Champaign. /s


  23. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 2:13 pm:

    === Demographics matter. That’s the difference===

    Dunno if that’s a good argument against either.

    “Meh, if we only had better demographics, then I’d support vote by mail”

    === Except in Champaign. /s===

    Here I was *only* worried they’d be counted early. My bad.


  24. - Jibba - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 2:34 pm:

    And let’s put a finer point on it. Crises have been used previously by governments around the world to postpone or cancel elections and install strongman rule. Let’s not tempt anybody with those thoughts and make ourselves an election system that will work in the current lockdown, since the pandemic is actually here and we don’t know when it will leave. Now, while we have time. Not later, when it is a crisis or too late.


  25. - revvedup - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 2:56 pm:

    Can the ISBE issue emergency rules that put all the counties on the same page for VBM? So long as the rules are within the power granted by law, the rules would not require legislation, and could be put into place in plenty of time for November. It is also likely, based on data from Italy, that by November there may not be a problem with voting in person.


  26. - 33rd ward - Friday, Apr 3, 20 @ 4:22 pm:

    Again, what is the obsession the GOP seems to have with making sure folks don’t vote?


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