CHICAGO (CBS) — Gov. JB Pritzker has signed legislation to expand Illinois’ vote by mail program for the November election.
The measure was approved by the Illinois House and Illinois Senate last month, largely along party lines. The legislation requires local election authorities to send ballot applications 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.
Based on voter rolls applications, would be sent to about 5 million people.
Pritzker said the legislation will help ensure voters can safely cast ballots in November, while avoiding possible further spread of COVID-19 at the polls.
“In the face of a pandemic, massive economic upheaval, and renewed calls for racial justice, it’s more important than ever that Illinoisans can hold accountable a truly representative and transparent government – and that means ensuring all eligible residents can wield their right to vote in a way that doesn’t risk their personal health,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Sending vote by mail applications to residents who have participated in recent elections will allow more people to exercise that right from the safety of their own homes and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”
The law also requires permanent early voting locations to be open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. It also permits curbside voting, allowing voters to fill out a ballot outside polling places, and authorizes local election officials to expand early voting hours for voters who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
Local election authorities also would be required to set up a central voting site where anyone who lives in their jurisdiction can cast a ballot, regardless of their normal polling place.
The changes would expire next year.