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Illinois lawmakers approve plan to make 2020 early voting options permanent, awaits Pritzker’s signature

Vote By Mail

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - If you enjoyed the expanded options to vote well before the election last year, state lawmakers just made them permanent for Illinois.

Many states used drop-off boxes and vote-by-mail ballots for the November election to allow people to vote safely amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Sen. Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) says one out of every three ballots cast in Illinois were sent by mail. However, many hand-delivered their ballot to drop boxes.

Her proposal could allow local election authorities to put permanent drop boxes outside of facilities. Morrison said this makes it easier for people to vote, especially those worried about sending their ballots in the mail.

"We should make it simpler to vote - even in a non-COVID-19 world," Morrison said. "Everyone should have a safe and secure way to cast their ballot."

While other states are limiting options for people to vote, Democrats wanted Illinois to do the right thing for voters.

"Election authorities must accept vote-by-mail ballots regardless of postage paid by the voter and provisions for curbside voting are allowed," Morrison said Thursday.

Sen. Michael Hastings (D-Tinley Park) stressed many people are still uncomfortable going into crowds at this point in the pandemic.

"Whether it is expanding access to drop boxes, curbside voting, or making sure ballots make it to the appropriate election authority, it is the right thing to do on behalf of all Illinois residents," Hastings said.

The Illinois Association of County Clerks and Recorders also supported this proposal.

The measure passed on a bipartisan 48-7 vote. Since the bill already received approval from the House, it moves to Gov. JB Pritzker's desk for final approval. Rep. Katie Stuart was the lead sponsor of the proposal in the House.

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Mike Miletich

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