State Senator Julie Morrison will introduce a bill this week to ensure Virus Free Voting. We expect the bill to include elements that have been successful in other states, including the following:
1. MAIL A BALLOT TO EVERY REGISTERED VOTER
A voter would not need to apply for a ballot or go to a polling place. Five states already mail a ballot to every registered voter between 20 and 30 days before Election Day. Voters love it, and turnout increases substantially.
2. GIVE VOTERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO VOTE IN PERSON BEFORE AND ON ELECTION DAY
It will be impossible to safely staff more than 10,000 polling places throughout Illinois for the November 2020 General Election. But some people prefer to vote in person. Others register to vote after ballots have been mailed out. Some spoil their ballot and need a replacement. The bill will create a number of sites where voters can do any of those things before and on Election Day.
3. CREATE SECURE DROP BOXES
Some voters prefer not to rely on the mail. We can create secure drop boxes outside every early voting site and at other convenient locations, as other states have done. If there's not enough time to get that done by November, a voter can deliver his or her ballot to any voting site.
Frequently asked questions
HOW MUCH WOULD UNIVERSAL VOTE BY MAIL COST?
County clerks have objected to the cost of mailing ballots to every registered voter and paying return postage for ballots. But that cost would be outweighed by relieving them of the cost of recruiting, training, and paying tens of thousands of election judges. The savings would be especially important in light of the State’s unanticipated revenue shortfall.
DOES VOTING BY MAIL INCREASE VOTE FRAUD?
No. In a recent report titled “The False Narrative of Vote-by-Mail Fraud,” the well-respected Brennan Center for Justice rebutted claims that mail voting is subject to abuse. “Despite [the] dramatic increase in mail voting over time, fraud rates remain infinitesimally small. None of the five states that hold their elections primarily by mail has had any voter fraud scandals since making that change.” The New York Times editorial board said “states that use vote-by-mail have encountered essentially zero fraud.”
The Brennan Center report suggested seven tools to guard against mail vote fraud. Illinois already utilizes several of those tools including verifying voter’s signatures, bar-coding ballots, tracing mail ballots through email, and harsh penalties for vote fraud. Several others can and should be adopted.
Virtually all the opposition to increased mail voting comes from the right-wing Heritage Foundation and President Trump. The Heritage Foundation’s database shows 16 convictions for mail ballot fraud in Illinois over a 14-year period, an average of about one per year