UPDATE: House passes vote by mail expansion plan



Update 6:45 pm: The Illinois House of Representatives passed an expansion to the state’s vote by mail program. The measure passed 72-43.

The bill now heads to the Senate.

Bill sponsor Representative Kelly Burke said that the bill was the result of a compromise.

“I think there are many people that would have loved it if we could send mail- in ballots to every single registered voter,” Burke said. “But we are trying to balance the fiscal impact, the work that would need to be done by the local authorities, with our concern for people to be healthy during the voting process.”

The legislation is meant to encourage voter turnout while also protecting the public from the pandemic.

It still drew opposition from Republicans in the House. Representative Tim Butler, a republican from Springfield, criticized the bill for putting more responsibility on a struggling agency.

“”It comes on the heels of some really stark problems that we saw with the Secretary of State’s Office with automatic voter registration which came out early this year. They have problems with that; how are we expecting them to have a larger role to play in our elections this fall. I think that’s a huge mistake. I think most of the resources and abilities need to go to our local election authorities and allow them to promote the current vote by mail system that we have, which is a pretty robust system.”

The bill already came up for debate in the Senate executive Committee, but didn’t go up for a vote.

Senator Julie Morrison, a democrat out of Deerfield. said the increases to the program could cost around 2.9 million dollars. That funding would come from federal funding under the CARES Act.

“The local election authorities will be the ones who actually are required to send the applications out,” Morrison said. “The bill sets forth some requirements for communication of data periodically throughout the fall between the State Board of Elections and the Secreatry of State. I think this necessary to make sure we are providing security for the election.”

The expansion to the program only applies to the 2020 General Election.

Original Story 11:21 am:

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — The Illinois House Executive Committee passed a bill that aims to expand the state’s vote by mail program.

The bill will now head to the House floor. If it passes there, it will head to the Senate.

If the bill passes through both chambers, then every voter who voted in the 2018 Election, the 2019 Consolidated Election and the 2020 Primary Election would be sent an application for a mail-in ballot.

It will also make election day a holiday for schools.

A separate amendment to the legislation will also lower the age for election judges to 16. That amendment is in the Rules Committee, and will come up on the floor.

Many of the changes that come from the bill only apply to the 2020 General Election in November.

It will also make Election Day a holiday for state government and schools.

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