SPRINGFIELD (AP) – Gov. J.B. Pritzker Tuesday approved a massive expansion in voting by mail, a plan derided by Republicans nationally.
The Democratic governor said allowing voters to mail in ballots for the November presidential election would limit polling place crowds and COVID-19 transmission. Republicans, led by President Donald Trump, have argued it opens the door to fraud.
The law requires that vote-by-mail applications be sent to every voter who voted through the mail for any election since 2018, reminders be sent in the fall, and authorizies the Illinois State Board of Elections to publicize and ease the process. Ballots don’t need to be mailed, but could be placed in drop-boxes outside local election authorities.
A second bill Pritzker signed Tuesday requires those boxes to be locked. Democrats set aside about $17 million, mostly in federal COVID-19 relief funds, to be provided to local authorities to finance the system. Republicans said it will cost far more than that and its price could bust some county government budgets.