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Illinois vote-by-mail applications to be mailed this week

Carbondale Southern Illinoisan

Wednesday, July 29, 2020  |  Article  |  By Marilyn Halstead

Election Issues (not candidates) (39)

Illinois county clerks are preparing to send out applications to vote by mail this week due to a new law regarding voting by mail for the 2020 General Election.

Williamson County Clerk Amanda Barnes and her staff will send about 30,000 applications in Williamson County. “We are sending them out because the state required us to do that,” Barnes said.

The law provides special vote-by-mail provisions for the 2020 general election, including:

  • All voters who voted in either the March 2020 primary, April 2019 consolidated election or November 2018 general election will receive by mail an application for a vote-by-mail ballot.
  • Anyone who registered to vote or updated their registration between March 18 and July 31 will be mailed an application for a vote-by-mail ballot.

The state’s online voter registration site now allows users to request a mail ballot when they register.

Voters may request a vote-by-mail ballot in their county of residence from the county clerk’s office. In Williamson County, this can be completed at www.williamsoncountyil.gov by clicking the “Election Info” button on the homepage and then selecting “Voter lookup.”

“If you want to vote by mail, fill out the application and send it back in,” Barnes said.

Voters can apply to vote by mail anytime. Ballots will be mailed to applicants beginning Sept. 24, which is also the first day of early voting. The deadline for applying for a mail ballot is Oct. 29. Ballots must be postmarked no later than Nov. 3 to be accepted, and properly postmarked ballots will be accepted through Nov. 17.

To ensure proper verification of ballots before they are accepted and to inform voters in a timely manner if their ballot is rejected, a panel of three election judges will review the voter’s signature. A ballot may be rejected for an invalid signature only by unanimous decision of the judges.

The ballot may be rejected if two of the three judges agree that: The ballot envelope was delivered opened; the certification envelope contains no signature; the voter has already cast a ballot; the voter voted in person on Election Day; or the voter is not a duly registered voter.

Barnes said voting by mail is not new in Illinois. However, this is a good way for anyone at risk for complications from COVID-19 to cast a vote.

In-person, early voting will begin Sept. 24 in local county courthouses and other designated locations. Early voting will end Nov. 2.

“In October, we will be open every Friday until 6 p.m. and from 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays,” Barnes said.

Barnes is concerned that the number of election judges available for this election will be low. Many of the people who usually fill that role may be at higher risk for COVID-19, which may prevent them from serving in the general election. Election judges keep track of who has voted at the polling places, check registration and help make sure ballots are accepted into ballot boxes.

“If you would like to be an election judge, call us,” she said.

Barnes also reminded everyone to wear masks or face coverings and practice social distancing when voting in person either early or on Election Day.

For more information about voting or if you are interested in serving as an election judge, call the county clerk in your county of residence. Local county clerks include: Franklin, 618-435-9800; Jackson, 618-687-7360; Perry, 618-357-5116; Saline, 618-253-8197; Union, 618–833-5711; Williamson, 618-998-2112.