Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x1 *** Another day, another lawsuit: Cook County Republicans sue to stop new vote by mail law
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*** UPDATED x1 *** Another day, another lawsuit: Cook County Republicans sue to stop new vote by mail law

Monday, Aug 10, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Cook County Republican Party v. JB Pritzker et al, filed today in federal court in Chicago

1. Voting is a fundamental, constitutional right that is central to our American democracy.

2. Governor J.B. Pritzker violated this right by signing into law a partisan voting scheme that is designed to harvest Democratic ballots, dilute Republican ballots, and, if the election still doesn’t turn out the way he wants it, to generate enough Democratic ballots after election day to sway the result. See Public Act 101-0642 a/k/a SB 1863, 101st General Assembly (“SB 1863”). The remaining Defendants are charged with carrying out this partisan scheme.

3. This civil action for declaratory and injunctive relief is filed to stop SB 1863 from going into effect. The claims arise under the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution; 42 U.S.C. Section 1983; 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a); and Article III, Section 4 of the Illinois Constitution.

* There are a ton of political claims made in the “Factual allegations” section

The Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly snuck through SB 1863 in five days, from May 18-22, 2020, by hijacking a bill about the Freedom of Information Act, amending it to advance their partisan election agenda, and rushing it to passage before the people of Illinois could weigh in with their opposition.

SB 1863 was introduced in the Senate on February 15, 2019, as an amendment to the Freedom of Information Act, passed the Senate on April 4, 2019, underwent First Reading in the House on April 9, 2019, underwent Second Reading in the House on May 22, 2019, and languished for a year.

SB 1863 was suddenly rewritten in 2020 by House Floor Amendment 5, which was filed on May 19, 2020, and House Floor Amendment 6, which was filed on May 21, 2020. The bill passed the House later the same day, with only one Republican voting in favor. The Senate passed it the next day, with no Republicans voting in favor. […]

SB 1863 creates a partisan voting scheme that is designed to directly disenfranchise voters disfavored by Pritzker, to dilute the votes of those disfavored by Pritzker, and to violate the secrecy of voting in Illinois.

Many aspects of SB 1863 work together to create the scheme by which Pritzker plans to disenfranchise the Republican Party

The scheme begins by putting as many ballots into play for the election as possible by mailing an application for a mail-in ballot to every voter who voted in the 2018 general election, the 2019 consolidated election, or the 2020 general primary election. 10 ILCS 5/2B-15(b). That amounts to roughly 5 million mail-in ballot applications, which were supposed to have been sent by August 1.

A high likelihood exists that applications were sent to people who may no longer be eligible to vote in Illinois. For example, the Wall Street Journal discovered that at least one former voter in Washington state recently received his ballot in the mail at his new address in Texas.

The states that use mail-in voting took years to perfect their process as they enlarged eligibility gradually before launching statewide. Implementing vote- by-mail is a learning process. State officials must identify qualified vendors for printing ballots, develop tracking systems so voters can be assured their ballots will arrive on time, and develop methods of reviewing signatures that reduce the number of rejected ballots. Doing so takes “decades, not months.”

Attempting to implement a process overnight in a state as large as Illinois will inevitably lead to thousands of lost and delayed ballot applications and ballots. A recent election in another large state that rushed into voting by mail shows the perils that lie ahead for Illinois. Over 80,000 New York City Democratic presidential primary ballots were not counted in the June 23 election because they arrived late, lacked a postmark, failed to include a signature, or contained other defects. This number meant that a staggering 21% of the votes cast were not counted.

The hurried nature of implementation is not the only hurdle Illinois faces. Illinois state government is one of the most inept in the Union, and the public has no reason to expect a vote-by-mail system to work any more smoothly than a variety of projects Illinois has stumbled through in recent years.

For example, Illinois has suffered more than 120,000 cases of unemployment fraud during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

And it goes on and on like that for a while.

* To the meat of it

Among many of the practical deficiencies of the Illinois vote-by-mail scheme is that it does not comport with recommendations issued by the United States Postal Service.

According to the USPS Inspector General, “ballots requested less than seven days before an election are at a high risk of not being delivered, completed by voters, and returned to the election offices in time.”

But Illinois allows voters to request an absentee ballot as late as October 29, 2020 – three business days before the election.

Indeed, the Inspector General’s report indicates that the Illinois deadline “put[s] ballots at high risk of not being delivered to voters before an election.”

Also, the Inspector General’s report states that “election offices should be educated on the benefits [that Intelligent Mail Barcodes] provide.” Id. at 7. Intelligent Mail Barcodes (IMbs) allow mailers and the Postal Service to track each ballot and would enable the Postal Service and election authorities to track ballots and identify delays.

SB 1863 makes no provision that mail ballots be tracked with IMbs or any other tracking device; therefore, thousands of voters will be disenfranchised when their ballots are lost in the mail.

For the ballots that are received by election authorities, the system for counting so many mail-in ballots will be overtaxed, leading to lax procedures for ensuring the secrecy of the ballot.

In addition to incompetence, SB 1863 will breed corruption. While other states may use mail-in voting, implementing a system overnight “in a state as notorious for election fraud as Illinois is” will open the door to criminal activity. Nader v. Keith, 385 F.3d 729, 733 (7th Cir. 2004). As the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals already recognized, “Oregon, for example, has switched to a system of all- mail voting. O.R.S. § 254.465. But what works in the state of Oregon doesn’t necessarily work in Illinois, especially in light of the colorful history of vote fraud we’ve seen.”

The provision of the voting scheme that is most important to committing voter fraud is ballot harvesting. SB 1863 allows for ballot harvesting, in which a paid, partisan operative may collect Democratic mail-in ballot applications and ballots to ensure that they are turned in and counted and may collect Republican mail-in ballot applications and ballots to ensure that they are not turned in and counted.

And, again, it goes on like that for a while.

* To the postal service aspect, here’s Bernie

As he was planning last month for the rollout of the state’s new rules concerning mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election, Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray said he wouldn’t be using the option of having drop-boxes.

Gray, whose office oversees elections in the county, had said that he had “concerns about the chain of custody of ballots” if they weren’t mailed or brought to his office in person during business hours.

But after receiving a copy of an ominous letter from the general counsel of the United States Postal Service, Gray is rethinking his position.

″… (U)nder our reading of Illinois’ election laws, certain deadlines for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are incongruous with the Postal Service’s delivery standards,” said the July 30 letter from Thomas Marshall. “This mismatch creates a risk that ballots requested near the deadline under state law will not be returned by mail in time to be counted under your laws as we understand them.”

That USPS letter is here.

*** UPDATE *** Jordan Abudayyeh in the governor’s office…

This lawsuit is a desperate political attempt to suppress the vote.


  1. - NIU Grad - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 2:07 pm:

    “to harvest Democratic ballots, dilute Republican ballots, and, if the election still doesn’t turn out the way he wants it, to generate enough Democratic ballots after election day to sway the result”

    Remember the old days when the Republicans ran the County and the Democrats ran the city? Now the former is so irrelevant that they are openly engaged in conspiracy-mongering without worrying that they don’t have a pathway to electability.

  2. - Donnie Elgin - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 2:14 pm:

    Why add so many failure points and uncertainly to something as essential as voting? If you embrace mail-in voting, at least do it intelligently. Add the IMbs, have a cut off date for requesting and postmarking ballots that do not allow ballots to be coming in weeks fter the polls close. Do better

  3. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 2:16 pm:

    Raunerites and Trumpkins are afraid of voters

    Good look.

    Good look considering Rauner’s own winning formula was… you guessed it… absentee votes… and going back to Edgar, Daniels, Pate… absentee votes…

    It’s extremely telling how much the now Raunerites who support Trump have abandoned what worked when actual Republicans held majorities in both chambers… and all SIX of the statewide offices.

    Very telling.

  4. - John Lopez - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 2:16 pm:

    Many, especially Republicans, talk about “ballot harvesting” without knowing what it is. Ballot Harvesting is still illegal in Illinois, and SB1863 didn’t change that.

    Want to know what Ballot Harvesting is, read the HEROES Act Democrats in the U.S. House passed in May. Pages 1,469 & 1,470 tells you what you need to know. HEROES Act is H.R. 6800.

  5. - 1st Ward - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 2:16 pm:

    You can’t yell “fraud” before fraud happens or cite the source of the conspiracy to commit (they can’t). Providing more readily available voting options isn’t fraud. Take issue with the state holiday for state employees (fine) but that’s not fraud nor does it disenfranchise other voters.

    Good article from Crains on what city and county board of election officials are doing.

  6. - truthteller - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 2:18 pm:

    why does it appear that one political party wishes to impede the right to vote almost every time? We have fought wars to bring/protect democracy and we have one political party that do all they can to make it difficult or impossible. They CAN NOT win with ideas so all they can do is cheat

  7. - Pundent - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 2:25 pm:

    Well I guess when you’ve exhausted all other ideas and abandoned governing and fielding electable candidates, this is all you’ve got left.

  8. - Mike - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 2:36 pm:

    Parsing through it, there’s a lot less there than meets the eye.

  9. - Jibba - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 2:37 pm:

    I seem to have missed the part where they mention how Republicans will be preferentially affected. Other than increasing voter turnout, which is the antithesis of modern Republicans.

  10. - twowaystreet - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 2:42 pm:

    Based on this claim, I’m surprised Republicans didn’t use this tactic to try and stall the budget impasse out indefinitely.

  11. - PMS - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 2:46 pm:

    A millions years ago, when I was the Exec Director of the CCRCC, we barely had money for stamps - how do now they have money for a lawsuit? all the constitutional officers were R’s and we even had Jack O’Malley. This is nuts.

  12. - The Other Rich Hill - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 2:52 pm:

    So.. voting is a fundamental right but voting is partisan and shouldn’t be allowed.

    Umm.. ok.

  13. - OneMan - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 3:05 pm:

    So making it easier to vote disenfranchises voters?

    If more people vote it is bad for us is an interesting hill to fight on.

    Thanks again ILGOP for reminding me why I don’t identify as one anymore.

  14. - JoanP - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 3:40 pm:

    =A high likelihood exists that applications were sent to people who may no longer be eligible to vote in Illinois. For example, the Wall Street Journal discovered that at least one former voter in Washington state recently received his ballot in the mail at his new address in Texas.=

    a) One swallow does not make a summer.

    b) There is a difference between sending ballots and sending applications.


  15. - Osborne Smith III - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 3:45 pm:

    This nation has a long history of successful vote by mail - it’s called “absentee”. This entire issue is a non-starter, unless the GOP would like to kill off absentee voting, as well.

    They’re desperate, knowing that the occupant of the Oval Office has all but killed any chance of down ballot success in 85 days.

  16. - Goodson Oddman - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 3:53 pm:

    === A high likelihood exists that applications were sent to people who may no longer be eligible to vote in Illinois.

    In Chicago at least, the VPM application was included in the non-forwardable canvass mailing to determine if the addresses on file are still valid.

  17. - CapnCrunch - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 4:06 pm:

    “….[ mailing an application for a mail-in ballot to every voter who voted in the 2018 general election, the 2019 consolidated election, or the 2020 general primary election] amounts to roughly 5 million mail-in ballot applications, which were supposed to have been sent by August 1….”

    If you voted in one of those elections shouldn’t you have received a mail-in ballot application?

  18. - John Lopez - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 4:18 pm:

    Capn Crunch, depends on the local election authority concerning timing. SB1863 changed the date from August 5 to the date the law was signed for election authorities to accept completed applications. Kane County Clerk sent applications in early July, but McHenry County Clerk waited until late July. Don’t know about the other 106 local election authorities.

  19. - Demoralized - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 4:27 pm:

    So, they file a rabidly partisan lawsuit with conjecture after conjecture as their “basis” and seek redress for something that hasn’t happened yet. Got it.

  20. - Honeybadger - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 4:37 pm:

    Why don’t the Republicans just Embrace absentee balloting and get more people out to vote? The whole idea behind voting is to get more people out to vote and vote for your particular candidate than the other one

  21. - CapnCrunch - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 4:39 pm:

    Thanks John. I thought mine may have been lost.

  22. - TinyDancer(FKASue) - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 5:03 pm:

    Lincoln Park post office will not deliver mail without a unit/apt number. Chicago Board of Election Commissioners was deactivating me yearly. Couldn’t figure out why they were always asking me for ID.
    Took me years to figure out there was a problem.

  23. - DownstateR - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 6:04 pm:

    Lately, I’m been late to the party here. I’ll just say as a registered “Republican” but Libertarian Party member I don’t have a problem with vote by mail. (banned word) I’ve already signed up for it.

  24. - zatoichi - Monday, Aug 10, 20 @ 9:27 pm:

    Last week, we received a post card ballot application from the local county clerk for the coming election. I assume everyone who is a registered voter in our county got one regardless of who they have have voted for in the past. If the card is not sent in I will not get a mail in ballot. If the card is sent in the county clerk will verify my signature/address just like when I vote in person and my voting sheet will be marked to show I have voted by mail. Still up to me to get the completed ballot mailed in on time or hand drop it off to the county clerk. How does this hurt/help Reps or Dems? It is still only one vote, not two or more. You got two months to get it done. Even the USPS is not that slow.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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