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At a time when large public gatherings present a threat to public health, our traditional way of running elections was a danger. After House passage on Thursday, today the Illinois state Senate passed a bill that would help prepare our democracy to withstand the challenges of COVID19 so that in November, no one will have to choose between their health and their vote.
Among other things, Senate Bill 1836 will: make election day a state holiday, automatically send absentee ballot request forms to people who voted in the last three elections, create an online portal for voters to request absentee ballots, create a system for reviewing, verifying and curing vote by mail ballots, allow election administrators to create vote centers, drive through voting and absentee ballot drop boxes and expand early voting.
All of these efforts would make it easier for voters to cast their ballots in a safe, socially distant way.
Illinois PIRG’s executive director Abe Scarr released the following statement:
"The bill passed today is a thoughtful first step to ensuring every voter in Illinois can safely cast their ballot this fall.
Any changes to our elections systems should not be undertaken lightly and, with less than six months before election day, that is doubly true now. But COVID19 presents a unique threat to our elections systems and requires a response from our elected officials.
By expanding and improving our existing vote by mail system, this bill smartly balances the need to adjust to ensure safe elections with the importance of maintaining the integrity of our elections systems. Making it easier for people to vote-by-mail while maintaining critical in-person voting options, is the right thing to do to ensure that every voter has the option to vote without risking their own health or the health of their neighbors.
We look forward to working with our partners in the Just Democracy Illinois Coalition along with elected leaders and state and local election officials to do everything we can to encourage broad, safe participation in the November election."
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