CHICAGO (AP) – More than 1 million Illinois voters have requested vote-by-mail ballots for the November election, as voters respond to a statewide push for mail voting amid concerns over COVID-19.
According to the Illinois Board of Elections, the number of requests puts Illinois on pace to substantially exceed the record it set for voting by mail in the 2018 general election, when 430,000 votes were cast by mail, accounting for 9.3 percent of all ballots. In the 2016 general election, 370,000 votes – 6.5 percent of all ballots – were cast by mail.
This summer, the state’s 108 local election authorities sent mail ballot applications to 6.4 million Illinoisans who had voted in the 2018 general, 2019 consolidated or 2020 primary elections.
The mailings were required under a series of special election laws passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The 1,111,387 mail ballot applications received to date likely is lower than the true total, as 28 Illinois election authorities have not yet reported their totals.
State Board of Elections Executive Director Steve Sandvoss SAID they’re “encouraged by the strong response to the ongoing vote-by-mail effort and that voting by mail provides a safe, secure and convenient voting option for those concerned about COVID-19.”
Sandvoss added the mail-in voting will also will help ease congestion at in-person polling places during early voting and on Election Day.
Ballots will start being mailed September 24th to voters who have requested them.