CHICAGO (CBS) — Lawmakers in Springfield were on day two of a three-day special session Thursday. It’s the first time lawmakers have gathered since mid March as they try to make sure everyone can vote this November.
The bill, which would expand mail-in voting, has critics who are concerned about voter fraud, but supporters say the changes will only apply to this November’s general election, adding it will give more voters a voice.
“I think looking at the ability to deliver, as many other states are doing, access to elections, recognizing that we’re in a pandemic,” said Rep. Kelly Burke.
In August ballot applications would automatically be sent to anyone who voted in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 elections or who applied for an absentee ballot. Ballots would then be mailed out in early fall.
One concern is the chance that applications could be sent to people who have died or moved.
“When those cards come back, somebody is physically going to match every one of those signatures against the voting record. I just think that there’s no chance that that’s actually going to happen at that point,” said Sen Jim Oberwiss.
House and Senate supporters dismiss that concern, pointing out the new election changes would be repealed on January 1, 2021. Gov. JB Prtizker agrees.
“Sending out applications, that voted in the last number of elections, and it’s still giving everybody else the ability to apply to get a ballot, I think is a reasonable compromise,” he said.
Based on voter rolls applications would be sent to about 5 million people.
The bill passed the House Thursday. The Senate was not expected to discuss it Thursday night.
Outside of the state board of elections, the Secretary of State’s Office would be responsible for application followup. Rep. Burke says the cost of the application component alone is almost $3 million.
If it passes it will make Election Day a school holiday.