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New Voting Laws

In response to COVID-19, our Democratic leaders passed landmark legislation to protect our right to vote this year. They also encourage us to take advantage of Vote By Mail to protect you and your community.

Encourages Illinois residents to vote by mail

  • Illinois State Board of Elections must post on its website a universal vote by mail application.
  • Election authorities can begin receiving and processing vote by mail applications immediately upon receiving them.
  • By August 1, 2020 each election authority must send a vote by mail application to: o Any person applied for a ballot – in person or via mail – during the 2018 General Election, 2019 Consolidated Election, or 2020 Primary Election; and
    • Any person who registered to vote or change their address before July 31, 2020 but after the 2020 Primary Election.
    • After the election authorities mail applications, the Secretary of State (SOS) is tasked with sending two follow-up mailers to encouraging electors to submit their vote by mail ballot.
  • New registrant will be allowed to use their voter registration as vote by mail application.
  • Vote by mail ballots can be processed within two days of receipt, though they cannot be used to tally or total votes until Election Day.

Expands opportunities for voting 

Expands early voting hours:

  • Allows election authorities to establish special early voting hours for persons with health conditions or those with COVID-19 related health concerns. 
  • Requires every election authority to have one universal voting site on Election Day. This is in addition to traditional in-precinct voting requirements. 
  • Allows election authorities to establish curb-side voting programs for any voter. 
  • Allows election authorities to establish drop boxes for vote by mail ballots. 
  • Requires election authorities to accept returned ballots, even if the postage is not included or incorrect.

Ensures every vote is counted 

  • Presumes every returned vote by mail ballot is valid. 
  • Requires each election authority to establish panels of three election judges to review returned vote by mail ballots. These judges, chosen from a list submitted by each political party, must review returned ballots and decide whether to accept or reject ballots. 
  • Ballots can on be rejected if: 
    • the signatures on the envelope and the one used by the election authority do not match;
    • the ballot envelope was delivered opened;
    • the voter has already cast a ballot or voted in person on Election Day; or
    • the voter is not duly registered to vote in the precinct. 
    • To reject a ballot, the panel must vote 3 out of 3 if the rejection is based on signature or 2 out of 3 if rejection is for another reason. 
    • If a ballot is rejected, the election authority must notify the elector within one business day. The elector can ensure the ballot is counted by responding or providing the necessary information no later than 14 days after the election.
    • Allows anyone registering to vote on election day who fails to bring the proper ID to cast a provisional ballot and have that ballot fully counted if the person submits the necessary documentation to the election authority within 14 days.

Other important changes

  • Encourages recruitment of election judges, including anyone age 16 and over to serve as election judges (students under 18 will have to meet certain GPA requirements). 
  • Requires election authorities to actively promote vote by mail and other forms of voting in any printed materials, including information about services available for people with disabilities, and anyone with barriers to their ability to vote