Mail Out the Vote!


The recently passed Senate Bill 1863 expands mail-in voting for the November 3 general election. This comes as a response to the challenge of COVID-19, and the potential risk posed by in person voting.


Voters can request a mail in ballot from the Cook County Clerk's Office. But SB 1863 also requires vote-by-mail applications to be sent by mail or email to voters who cast a ballot in 2018, 2019 or 2020. This must be done no later than August 1. Voters who registered or changed their address after the March primary will receive a vote-by-mail application as well. SB 1863 stipulates that that the Secretary of State send a notice voters who received an application but did not return it by September 15. It is estimated that 4.8 million voters will receive an application.


Voters returning their mail in ballots would be given an option to do by mail, or via a collection site if a municipality chooses to do so. Election authorities must appoint panels of three election judges, no more than two from the same party, to examine mail-in ballots. Judges may only disqualify mail-in ballots by unanimous vote for the following reasons:


  • If the signature on the voter registration file does not match the signature on the ballot

  • If the ballot is not signed

  • If ballots are delivered opened

  • If the voter has already cast a ballot

  • If the voter voted in person on election day

  • If the voter is not registered to vote in the precinct


For those wishing to vote in person, SB1863 allows for curbside voting where voters can remain in their cars while completing their ballots.


SB 1863 also makes Election Day a state holiday for state employees, including public schools and universities, but only for the 2020 election.

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