* Press release…
The Illinois Senate approved an expanded vote-by-mail program that has garnered increased popularity across the state and country amid public health concerns over voting and elections during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Senate President Don Harmon voted for the expanded vote-by-mail program and issued the following statement:
“This is an overdue step toward modern convenience and safety in our elections,” said Harmon. “It’s unfortunate it took a global pandemic to convince people of its value, but expanding vote by mail is a needed election reform that I hope voters will utilize.”
Under the proposal:
· Any person who has voted in the past two years (2018 General Election, 2019 Consolidated Election or 2020 Primary Election) would receive an application for a ballot in their mailbox.
· Any person who registered to vote after the 2020 Primary Election would also receive an application.
· General Election Day, November 3, 2020, would be a state holiday.
This does not preclude in-person voting opportunities on and/or before Election Day.
The legislation is SB1863.
After the Senate’s 37-19 vote, the legislation’s next destination is the governor’s desk.
* Citizen Action/Illinois…
“This bill is an important step to protect people’s right to vote,” said Julie Sampson, co-director of Citizen Action/Illinois. “The coronavirus outbreak upended elections elsewhere and caused confusion for voters when polling places closed. With these reforms, Illinoisans can vote by mail, in the language of their choice, without risking potential exposure to COVID-19. Sending the registered voters an application to vote by mail is the least we can do.”
* Press release…
“The reforms in this law are an important first step toward ensuring that no voter has to risk their health in order to exercise their right to vote in November,” said Just Democracy Chair and Common Cause Illinois Executive Director Jay Young. “We are particularly pleased that, as our coalition has called for, the law keeps these emergency changes temporary to avoid any permanent obstacles to voting. However, advocates and election officials will need to act decisively to address some important gaps left out of this law.”
Coalition members raised several remaining challenges, including:
• The law falls short of protecting access to limited English proficient voters. Ballot applications and educational materials must be accessible to all citizens.
• The law does not direct officials to consider community input when closing or consolidating polling places, decisions that land with greater impact on communities of color.
• The law doesn’t protect the rights of voters facing the gravest health threats - including those in nursing homes, jails, and hospitals - or even require local election authorities to give public notice of procedures for these communities.
Nothing from opponents in my email.
…Adding… AARP IL…
“Older Illinoisans should not have to risk their lives or their health to exercise their right to vote,” said Bob Gallo, State Director of AARP Illinois. “With voters set to go to the polls on November 3, we believe that Illinois should take action now to ensure that all registered voters can cast their ballots safely. […]
“These are challenging times for all Illinois residents,” Gallo said. “ Older adults in this state must be able to rely on their elected officials for leadership to ensure that the largest voting bloc in our population, the 50+ voter, can continue to have a safe and secure way to exercise their right to vote during this unprecedented time.”
“The right to vote is the foundational pillar of our democracy — and, now, as our elected leaders are making some of the most consequential decisions of our lifetimes, it’s more important than ever that people have every ability to make their voices heard,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I applaud Leader Kelly Burke, Senator Julie Morrison, the Women’s Caucus and leaders in the General Assembly for working to ensure Illinoisans can continue to exercise their right to vote during these unprecedented times. Sending vote-by-mail applications to residents who have participated in recent elections will allow more people to vote from the safety of their own homes and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. I look forward to signing this legislation when it reaches my desk and I encourage all eligible voters to exercise their right to vote at every available opportunity.”