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Illinois

Illinois has made enormous progress since the pandemic began in improving their mail voting system. Illinois has made permanent a variety of the emergency changes adopted in 2020 and can continue to strengthen its election system by making other changes not codified or allowed to expire permanent in law. As always, we stress that policy is important.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Opportunities

Creating an online portal for voters to request an absentee ballot that feeds directly into the voter registration system is an important step to help verify addresses, collect contact information, and remove administrative steps involved in processing a large amount of requests. We encourage an integrated process that allows new voters to register and allows current voters to make changes to their address and make requests for ballots in a seamless manner.
Illinois can increase voter confidence by allowing voters to track their ballot much like an Amazon package by creating a statewide ballot tracking system, rather than voters having to hope their county decides to implement its own. Advanced ballot tracking systems can proactively notify voters when their ballot takes a new step in the path from being sent to them to finally being counted (or rejected). If a ballot is rejected, these ballot tracking tools can be used as another method to contact voters if there is a signature mismatch or deficiency on their return envelope.
With a drastic increase in mail ballots, Illinois has a great opportunity to reach for the gold standard of post-election security by implementing risk limiting audits.
We highly recommend keeping vote centers, or polling locations where any voter in the county can vote, beyond the 2022 election. This is a way to streamline the system so over time, as the share of the vote cast by mail increases, counties can have fewer overall polling locations, while individual voters will have more voting location options. Additionally, we recommend including provisions to allow for ballots to be received at polling and vote centers, as well as other locations deemed necessary by the clerk, as a low cost way to increase return options.
Guaranteeing prepaid postage is a voter-centric reform that breaks down an economic barrier to the vote. While SB 1863/HB 2238 mandated that election officials accept 2020 general election ballots sent with insufficient postage, Illinois should make prepaid postage permanent for all future elections.

Recent Legislation

As of June 21, 2021

In 2020, the legislature responded to the pandemic by passing SB 1863/HB 2238, which encouraged all voters to vote at home in the 2020 general election. It provided for the distribution of mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters and required the Secretary of State to follow up with all voters that did not apply for mail ballots twice. It mandated ballot-tracking and clarified that election officials must accept ballots delivered with insufficient postage. It also allowed voters to either mail their ballots or drop them off at designated collection sites.

During the 2021 session,Illinois passed SB825 to create a permanent absentee list and require officials to send voters absentee applications before each election. Additionally, just for the 2022 election, it requires all counties to create vote centers, where anyone in the county can vote, and makes election day a holiday. The state also passed HB 1871, which ordered the State Board of elections to distribute remaining HAVA funds to county election officials for the purpose of establishing drop boxes. It also facilitated curbside voting and required election officials to accept ballots delivered with insufficient or no postage.