Vote-by-mail expands, election day now state holiday

A+Huskies+Vote+sign+stands+in+the+Holmes+Student+Center.+

Patrick Murphy

A Huskies Vote sign stands in the Holmes Student Center.

Kierra Frazier, Reporter

DeKALB — Every registered voter in DeKalb County will be sent a vote by mail application for the Nov. 3 election as a result of legislation Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed on Tuesday, according to a June 17 release from Douglas J. Johnson, county clerk and recorder. 

Pritzker’s legislation to expand the number of vote by mail ballots is aimed at ensuring “safe and active participation in the 2020 general election during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” according to a June 16 release from Pritzker. 

The new law expands early voting hours at permanent polling places 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. The measure also makes Nov. 3 a government and school holiday to allow empty schools to be used as polling places, according to the release.

Local election offices must mail or email vote by mail ballot applications by Aug. 1 to voters who cast a ballot since the 2018 general election or changed addresses after the March primary. Applications will also go out to anyone who is registered to vote. 

Voters who submit their application for a vote by mail ballot by Oct. 1 will receive their ballot by Oct. 6.

Additionally, the legislation permits the use of curbside voting, where voters can fill out the ballot outside of the polling place, according to the release. The bill also authorizes election authorities to establish additional early voting hours for voters whom COVID-19 presents increased health risks.

“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 the release. 

The legislation also requires local election authorities to establish a central voting site where anyone who lives in the jurisdiction can vote, regardless of precinct.

To ensure a timely delivery of a vote by mail ballot, voters must mail back their applications as soon as possible, according to a release from Johnson. 

For more information on vote by mail ballots, contact the DeKalb County Elections’ Office at 815-895-7147 or through email at elections@dekalbcounty.org.