As unprecedented restrictions have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, many voters are wondering how they’ll place their ballot come election day this November. Thankfully, residents of Illinois stand with 33 other states that don’t require excuses to receive mail-in absentee ballots, a privilege that should be put to use.
The concept of voting by mail is not new, going as far back as the Civil War to allow soldiers on the battlefield to vote, and has expanded to more people ever since. Though originally used primarily for people away from home or too sick to leave the house, absentee ballots for any reason were adopted by California in the 1980s and soon spread throughout the country.
Numerous politicians, most notably President Donald Trump, have incited unnecessary fear in the public about mail-in voting, citing higher chances of fraudulent voting. This fear of potential fraudulent voting runs counter to the success of the five states that already mail out ballots to all eligible voters, and the history of mail-in voting in general.
The pandemic that has ravaged the country for almost half a year has forced many states to impose various restrictions for public gatherings. Mere days after Illinois’s primaries had been decided, Gov. J.B. Pritzker gave a stay-at-home order for the state.
Since Illinois was not one of the states that had to hold its primaries under these restrictions, residents have yet to feel the frustration that many have felt in regards to receiving and sending in their mail-in ballots.
The fear of absentee ballots sent in being rejected is the reason for these frustrations and has brought up issues raised by voters. During the primaries, numerous people who voted by mail reported that their ballot was not accepted on account of the fact it arrived too late. This was incurred upon many voters as risk of COVID-19 infection kept them indoors during the early elections.
Illinois residents who plan on voting this November should apply as soon as they can to have their ballots sent through the mail, especially as uncertainty surrounds the country as a number of new COVID-19 cases continue to rise and recently loosened restrictions are likely to be reset.
The right to request a mail-in ballot in Illinois needs to be taken full advantage of regardless of these fears. Whether it’s done to prevent the spread of COVID-19 or simply due to anxiety from being unable to socially distance, there is no excuse not to request one today.
The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is Oct. 10. To find more information, visit the Voting By Mail page on elections.il.gov’s website.