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Illinois set to greatly expand vote by mail

Thursday, May 21, 2020

* Tina Sfondeles

The elections omnibus measure would allow for a vote-by-mail application to be sent to any voter who previously voted-by-mail or who cast a ballot in 2018, 2019 or 2020. It would also allow any Illinois resident who filled out a change of address or a voter registration application between the March 17 primary and July 31 to be sent a vote-by-mail application.

The measure also includes language designed to provide more election judges, in light of the mess of the March primary in which many older election judges opted out for safety concerns.

Under the new measure, any U.S. citizen 16 or older would be able to serve as an election judge. High school students, community college and university students would be notified of their option to serve as election judges, and the Illinois Department of Employment Security would be required to notify the unemployed that they could serve as an election judge.

Election Day would also be considered a holiday.

The holiday wouldn’t apply to businesses, just government and schools.

…Adding… I should note that most of the bill’s changes are only for this year’s general election.

The language is here. As I told subscribers earlier this week, its contents are very similar to the House Democratic Women’s Caucus list of ideas from last week.

* Sun-Times editorial

As the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said, “Our goal is to ensure the greatest possibility of access for citizens to be able to go and cast votes in November in the pandemic.”

Illinois already has a comparatively voter-friendly system of elections. Mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day are counted even if they arrive two week later. No witness signature is needed to vote by mail. And unlike with absentee ballots, no one has to provide an excuse for voting by mail, such as an illness.

Illinois can do even better to ensure full and fair elections this fall.

…Adding… The bill was advanced to the floor today. Some stories…

* Bill to expand vote-by-mail heads to House floor

* Vote by mail expansion moves to House floor

* Despite concerns, measure expanding vote-by-mail in Illinois advances

…Adding… I’m hearing the Senate may take up this bill tonight…


…Adding… Now the SDems are saying that it may not be taken up tonight.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

35 Comments »
  1. - Skin savers - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:39 am:

    The General Assembly won’t relax signature requirements for ballot vacancies this cycle, of course. There are a number of uncontested statehouse races and a candidate slated by his or her party would still have to get 500 signatures of voters who didn’t vote in the other party’s primary by June 1. Pray tell, how would such candidates (or libertarians, greens, and indies) be able to collect such?


  2. - Hot Taeks - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:39 am:

    Certainly a step in the right direction. And remember, mail-in voting has shown to have no benefit to either party. It is instead a massive benefit to the voters of this state.


  3. - John Lopez - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:42 am:

    Does anyone know the bill number?


  4. - JoanP - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:44 am:

    @Skin savers -

    Under Pallmeyer’s ruling, they can collect signatures remotely, and they have until July 20.


  5. - CapnCrunch - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:45 am:

    ==Election Day would also be considered a holiday.==

    Also, consider it a Monday and take the previous two days off.


  6. - Excitable Boy - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:46 am:

    I have to disagree with the adverb “greatly”. There’s no reason not to just mail ballots, not doing so is as much about DPI as it is about the IL GOP.


  7. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:48 am:

    === Also, consider it a Monday===

    The federal elections are mandated by federal law. Can’t change that day of the week.


  8. - efudd - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:49 am:

    Love the idea of younger election judges. Nearly every time I vote I have to point to my name in the book because the, ahem, older judge simply can’t see it.


  9. - Anonish - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:51 am:

    No reason not to do this every election going forward in regards to the application being sent out.

    I am not in favor of making Election Day a holiday. If they need it, then make it easier for schools to close if they are a polling place and can’t offer entrance to voting area that keeps public sequestered from students.


  10. - JoanP - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:53 am:

    = any U.S. citizen 16 or older would be able to serve as an election judge. =

    This is a splendid idea. Completely aside from the problems this last election with older folks having to bail, this would be a great way to get younger people involved in the process.


  11. - Anonish - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:53 am:

    @Excitable better to do applications first to make sure you are sending ballots in proper language for the voter.


  12. - RNUG - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:55 am:

    == Does anyone know the bill number? ==

    Rich has a link to it in the post. SB1863


  13. - Chatham Resident - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:57 am:

    State employees already have Election Day off in general election years.


  14. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 9:59 am:

    Election Day was already a day off for state government workers.

    I support making Election Day a holiday for everybody - makes it easier for parents with school-age kids - but I guess parents already have to deal with similar logistical issues for teacher institute days.

    Public schools being shut down on E-Day and being polling places everywhere also makes a ton of sense.

    I’ve always wondered if (before absentee/early voting was easier) there were some people who might have stayed home due to not feeling comfortable voting in a church or union hall if they have negative feelings about religion or unions.


  15. - John Lopez - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 10:06 am:

    Found the hot link to legislation.

    Definitely a tweak, & not the overhaul Congress, the U.S. House, passed Friday night.

    Ballot Harvesting will still be illegal in Illinois, as well as sending unsolicited VBM ballots to all registered voters.


  16. - Quibbler - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 10:19 am:

    It’s a decent start I guess, but by limiting the mailing to folks who voted in 2018-20, they’re missing the larger pool of presidential election voters. Ballots should be sent to every registered voter in the state.


  17. - Downstate Illinois - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 10:23 am:

    I still think this bill is unconstitutional as it treats different voters differently, a violation of the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. Sending applications to everyone, or worse, sending ballots, would just invite voter fraud. We have a ridiculously easy system for voting in this state we just require voters to take a little initiative which is part of a citizen’s civic responsibility.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 10:25 am:

    === Sending applications to everyone, or worse, sending ballots, would just invite voter fraud.===

    … and yet… Oregon.

    Red herrings… for red voters.


  19. - Lynn S. - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 10:29 am:

    I’m generally ok with this, but I don’t support making election day a holiday.

    Not that long ago, I was a school board member. It’s hard enough to schedule stuff, and then you throw in another mandatory holiday?

    If this applies to local primaries (February), local elections (April), and federal elections (November), that’s up to 3 days of lost instructional time in a school year.

    Do we have a count as to how many school buildings were polling sites 15-20 years ago, vs. now? My memory seems to be administrative buildings as polling sites, not school gyms or cafeterias or lobbies.

    (And as a single parent, 3 more days my kid is out of school and I’m scrambling for some form of back-up child care? Are you freaking kidding me? And several other banned words.)


  20. - Just Another Anon - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 10:35 am:

    I wish they hadn’t put a 250k population cap on reducing the number of election judges per precinct. I suspect more people than ever will be voting by mail, reducing the staffing needs per polling place. If cook wants to do its own thing, then make it counties under 1 million.


  21. - Joe Bidenopolous - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 10:35 am:

    ===would just invite voter fraud.===

    Reminder that the only real ballot harvesting voter fraud that occurred in 2018 was in the NC 9th Congressional District and was perpetrated by Republicans


  22. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 10:41 am:

    Sorry. *can’t send*


  23. - Responsa - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 11:06 am:

    As a long time election judge I have been impressed with the level of care that goes on in all the individual polling places I’ve ever worked to assure that the people voting are properly registered and are who they say they are. Election judges of both the main political parties along with poll watchers have regularly commented on this. The results are released within minutes of the polls closing and absentee votes have been sufficiently small in number as to be able to be managed well and counted under existing county systems.

    The concern I have with an all mail- in election is that so much of it would have to take place behind closed doors at both ends; at a voter’s residence and at the ballot opening/verification/casting location(s). Whether one is a Democrat who doesn’t trust Republicans or a Republican who doesn’t trust Democrats, in my opinion vote by mail results will never be fully trusted by the electorate. I hope we don’t blunder into a huge mess by trying to force a voting system that there will not be enough time to perfect.


  24. - Gdubya - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 11:13 am:

    “The General Assembly won’t relax signature requirements for ballot vacancies this cycle, of course. There are a number of uncontested statehouse races and a candidate slated by his or her party would still have to get 500 signatures of voters who didn’t vote in the other party’s primary by June 1. Pray tell, how would such candidates (or libertarians, greens, and indies) be able to collect such?”
    One, it was a judge’s order that changed the filing requirements for independent and new party candidates, two they should have filed for the primary.


  25. - Huh? - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 12:01 pm:

    Goody gumdrops. Illinois is now inline to get the Michigan treatment from tramp, threatening the disbursement of federal funds via tweet.

    https://www.politico.com/news/2020/05/20/trump-threatens-federal-funding-for-michigan-mail-in-voting-270609


  26. - Anonish - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 12:35 pm:

    === treats different voters differently ===
    Election authorities mark people as inactive all the time if they don’t vote in a certain number of elections. It plays a role in budgeting and planning for execution of future elections. Its responsible governance. Folks who haven’t voted in the most recent elections are still registered and can apply for a mail ballot.

    === Sending applications to everyone, or worse, sending ballots, would just invite voter fraud.===
    Like all those military voters who can’t commit their voter fraud without their co-conspirators in the US Post Office.

    Maybe its just me but it seems republicans only have problems with mail ballots once folks other than old white people and the military want to use it in large numbers?


  27. - Teacher Lady - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 12:45 pm:

    ==The concern I have with an all mail- in election is that so much of it would have to take place behind closed doors at both ends; at a voter’s residence and at the ballot opening/verification/casting location(s). Whether one is a Democrat who doesn’t trust Republicans or a Republican who doesn’t trust Democrats, in my opinion vote by mail results will never be fully trusted by the electorate.==
    When absentee ballots are processed, there are election judges present. Signature match occurs, just like with in-person voting. If judges determine that the signatures don’t match, the voter is given an opportunity to verify their identity. Absentee ballots are bar-coded so that someone else cannot mark and sign your ballot.
    It is not done behind closed doors with no one watching.


  28. - In 630 - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 1:06 pm:

    Oregon has the most experience, but multiple states have experience with voting from home now. The voter fraud question remains, as always, a red herring. And for good reason- the logistics of manipulating an election that way are just prohibitive.

    Now manipulating the number and location of polling places and opportunities people have to vote at all…*that’s* much easier for political actors to pull off. See: many states.


  29. - Responsa - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 1:07 pm:

    Teacher lady, my comment was about potential issues in vastly expanding mail in voting (the topic of this thread). I had hoped my comment was clear that absentee ballots have not been problematic in past elections where the vast majority of ballots are cast in person either on election day or at in-person early voting locations. However, processing a few thousand absentee ballots in a timely manner versus processing and verifying potentially hundreds of thousands of mail in ballots in a timely manner is a very different kettle of fish as I hope you can agree.


  30. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 1:28 pm:

    See also, Washington state, which also has been doing all mail in ballots for some time now.


  31. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 1:29 pm:

    So many opportunities for fraud - there will now be a simple way for precinct workers to entice inactive/never voters to “request” the mail-in ballot. It will take all 3 judges to kick out a questioned signature. And the only real audit check on fraud is allowing the parties to review the rolls of voters who have requested a mail ballot. There will be lots of checking obituaries against the October 2, 2020, list.


  32. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 1:30 pm:

    === So many opportunities for fraud===

    Explain Oregon.

    Otherwise… you have nothing.


  33. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 1:43 pm:

    =Explain Oregon.

    Otherwise… you have nothing=

    this is Illinois, not Oregon - so explain the 13th ward

    “The number of revocations far exceeds the number of signatures Krupa collected. That means false affidavits were filed with the elections board”

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/john-kass/ct-met-chicago-13th-ward-alderman-race-kass-20181206-story,amp.html


  34. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 1:47 pm:

    === “The number of revocations far exceeds the number of signatures Krupa collected. That means false affidavits were filed with the elections board”===

    Are those ballots or signatures, lol

    How broad do you see this “massive voter fraud… by mail”

    This isn’t re-inventing a wheel.

    How many absentee or mail in ballots in Illinois are fraudulent in an election?

    If it’s going go be massive, it must be out of control now…


  35. - @misterjayem - Thursday, May 21, 20 @ 2:09 pm:

    “I still think this bill is unconstitutional as it treats different voters differently, a violation of the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.”

    Some voters’ polling places are closer to their homes than the polling places of other voters. In Chicago, some voters don’t even need to leave their apartment buildings.

    That difference of convenience isn’t a violation of the 14th Amendment and this isn’t either.

    – MrJM


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