Vermilion County and Danville election officials are getting ready for the Nov. 3 presidential and local election, and residents who want to vote by mail can expect more information in the coming weeks.
According to a press release from Vermilion County Chief Deputy County Clerk/Supervisor of Elections Lindsay Light, Gov. J.B. Pritzger in June signed Senate Bill 1863 into law, expanding vote by mail in Illinois.
Pritzker stated, “Sending vote-by-mail applications to residents who have participated in recent elections will allow more people to exercise that right from the safety of their own homes and help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”
Anyone in lllinois who cast a ballot from November 2018 or later, or who registered to vote or changed addresses after the March 2020 primary, will be sent an application to vote by mail, according to Danville Election Commission Executive Director Sandy Delhaye, also in a press release.
Individuals who changed their name, or who requested a mail-in-ballot since November 2018, even if they had not voted, will also be sent an application.
These applications will be mailed by Aug. 1. They will need to be filled out in order to receive mail-in-ballots. The first day those ballots will be able to be mailed is Sept. 24.
To improve the signature verification process, the legislation raises the standard for rejecting a vote-by-mail ballot. The election authority will be required to appoint a bipartisan panel of three judges to verify voters’ signature and the validity of the ballot. Currently, only a single election judge makes this determination, according to Delhaye.
The legislation permits the use of curbside voting, in which voters can fill out the ballot outside of the polling place.
Delhaye said curbside voting will only be for disabled persons and those who make an appointment.
“While some voters in Vermilion County will see small differences in this election, most voters will not see any changes from prior elections,” according to Light.
“All voters who voted in the last three elections, as well as any voter who has changed their registration or registered since the primary in March, will receive a postcard that includes a vote by mail application later in the summer. If you choose to vote by mail, please feel free to utilize the postcard as your ballot application. Ballots will go out on Sept. 24 for any voter that applies from Aug. 1 through Sept. 23,” the press release states.
If a voter does not choose to vote by mail, the voter can disregard the postcard. Vermilion County voters, outside Danville, can still participate in early voting in the county clerk’s office beginning on Sept. 24, Monday through Saturday, through Nov. 2, and polling places, as normal, will be open on Election Day, Nov. 3.
“If you disregard the postcard, on or around Sept. 15, you will receive a reminder to return the application. You can use this reminder to turn in the postcard and vote by mail, or you can still come and utilize early voting, or you can vote in your polling place on Election Day. If you disregard the postcard and the first reminder, you will receive a second reminder on or around Oct. 15 to return the application. Again, you can use the postcard and vote by mail, or you can come utilize early voting or you can vote in your polling place on Election Day,” the county press release continues.
Polling places will be open, as normal, on Election Day staffed with three judges per precinct, as per statute. The polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m., there will be an abundance of hand sanitizer, and polling place set ups will allow for social distancing.
“Our office has been working diligently to audit all voter registration records and has put extra security procedures in place to ensure voter confidence in voting however you choose. If you receive something from our office regarding your registration, please follow the directions on the notice to ensure your registration is accurate for the November election,” according to Light.
Should a voter choose to vote by mail, ballot to voter anonymity is maintained. The office receives a voted ballot via the mail or hand-delivered by a person who authorizes so and it is handed directly to a set of bipartisan election judges. They then check the signature on the ballot certification against the signature in the database and the signature on the application to ensure it matches. If there is any question, the office will reach out to the voter directly. If everything matches, the secrecy envelope is put into a pile to be opened later to maintain anonymity. Once all of the received ballots are checked in, the judges open the secrecy envelopes and process the ballots into the tabulator as the voter would have in-person, according to Light.
Both offices are always willing to answer questions and will continue to update the voters if they can expect any additional changes leading up to Election Day.
For county questions or concerns, call Chief Deputy County Clerk Lindsay Light, at 217-554-1911 or the office at 217-554-1900.
Danville voters can contact Delhaye and the Danville Election Commission at 217-554-1930. The Danville Election Commission also continually updates its website at danvillevotes.com.