Gov. Pritzker Signs Legislation to Expand Vote by Mail

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local News

To ensure safe and active participation in the 2020 general election during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor JB Pritzker signed SB 1863 and HB 2238 into law Tuesday to provide vote by mail (VBM) applications to all recent voters in Illinois. The legislation also expands early voting hours at permanent polling places, improves the signature verification process and makes election day a state holiday.  In anticipation of the continued need for social distancing measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, vote by mail may be the safest method to cast a ballot in November. Under the new law, local election offices must mail or email vote by mail ballot applications and the VBM timeline to voters who cast a ballot in the 2018 general election, the 2019 consolidated election or the 2020 general primary election, including voters who registered or changed addresses after the primary election. Voters who submit their application for a VBM ballot by October 1 will receive their VBM ballot by October 6.

The legislation requires the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE) to:

• Post an application for a vote by mail ballot on its website;

• Modify the online voter registration system to allow a new registrant to apply for a VBM ballot when completing the online registration;

• Provide notice to each election authority about what it must do to comply with the new law and;

• Adopt emergency rules to provide reimbursement for expenses related to the 2020 general election incurred as a result of COVID-19 and the new requirements.

The trailer bill, HB 2238, would require collection boxes to be locked and opened only by election authorities. It also requires ISBE to establish additional guidelines for the security of these sites. The new laws take effect immediately.

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