SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed off on two bills today to help ensure safe and active participation in the 2020 general election.
The bills will provide vote by mail (VBM) applications to all recent voters in Illinois. The state anticipates the need for social distancing measures during the election season and says VBM may be the safest measure.
The new legislation also expands early voting hours at polling places, improves the signature verification process, and makes election day a state holiday.
The expanded voting hours is to help prevent overcrowding at the polls. The legislation also authorizes the use of curbside voting, in which voters can fill out the ballot outside the polling place.
Local election offices must mail or email VBM ballot applications 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.
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.