Illinois lawmakers on Friday approved of a vote-by-mail expansion for November’s general election — a move that comes as Democrats across the country attempt to seize on the coronavirus pandemic to achieve the long-held party objective.
Per the Belleville News-Democrat:
Anyone who applied to vote in 2018, 2019 or 2020 will automatically receive a vote-by-mail application through the postal service or email. Applications can be returned through mail, email or personal delivery to the local election authority.Voters will receive an official ballot by October 6 at the latest. They can be mailed back or turned in at a local collection site. By Sept. 15, the secretary of state’s office will send a reminder to anyone who received a vote-by-mail application but did not return it.…
State Sen. Julie Morrison, the northern Illinois Democrat who introduced the bill, said her legislation originally proposed sending a vote-by-mail ballot to every registered voter. But because of “financial constraints and the integrity of that list,” Democrats drew back the language to send applications only to those who applied to vote from 2018 to 2020.
The proposal would use money provided in the $2 trillion CARES Act to support the expansion.
“The goal is to make vote-by-mail “more user-friendly, efficient, secure and accessible,” House bill sponsor Rep. Kelly Burke (D) said of the proposal, which allows voters to return their ballots to designated “collection sites” — something about which Republican lawmakers have expressed concern.
“As we adapt to public health guidelines and new technologies, it’s important we’re doing everything we can to protect our residents and ensure that they have access to voting,” Burke said.
Her reasoning fell flat on Republicans, some of whom said the bill does not provide enough checks and balances and cautioned that it “opens the door for rampant fraud.”
“There’s not enough checks and balances, there’s not enough security, there’s not enough integrity to this ballot-harvesting drop-box system,” Republican Rep. Lindsay Parkhurst warned.
“My concern isn’t how those ballots become postmarked, but the opportunity for ballot stuffing that can take place unsupervised after hours by political operatives,” Rep. Ryan Spain (R) said.
State Sen. Bill Brady (R) also expressed concern over the potential for fraud.
“We already have some of the easiest vote-by-mail procedures in the country,” Brady said. “This just opens the door for rampant fraud, diminishing the value of everyone’s vote.”
While physical polling locations will still be available, the bill also authorizes local election officials to offer curbside voting.
The bill now heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), who has already demonstrated support for the measure.
“I’m very much in favor of making sure that everybody gets a ballot who is eligible to vote and then returns that ballot,” he said during a Thursday briefing, calling the vote-by-mail expansion a “reasonable compromise.”
Officials in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) Michigan have taken similar steps, sending all registered voters absentee ballot applications, drawing a sharp response from President Trump.
“Michigan sends absentee ballot applications to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” Trump said this week.
“This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!” he warned:
Michigan sends absentee ballot applications to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election. This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 20, 2020
Democrats have appealed to Wisconsin’s controversial in-person primary, held April 7, to justify their calls for vote-by-mail. However, only 52 of the 413,000 individuals who showed up to the polls later tested positive for the coronavirus, amounting to an infection rate of 0.013 percent.