Changes in Election Law 2020

Changes in Election Law 2020


Voting By Mail

Illinois has offered a no excuse Vote By Mail (VBM) option for many years. New legislation expands the application process for previous voters, voters who have not voted recently, and individuals who apply to VBM this summer. The legislation also allows the Election Board to accept online applications to VBM in early June instead of August. 

Previous voters: Approximately 1 million voters who cast a ballot in one or more of the elections that occurred between November 2018 (this includes the November 2018, February and April 2019, and March 2020 elections) will receive an application to VBM by August 1. Newly registered voters and those who changed their addresses between March 17 (the date of the March 2020 Primary Election) and July 31 also will receive applications for VBM ballots by August 1.    

Voters who have not voted recently: Approximately 560,000 individuals who have not voted in any election in the last two years will receive a voter card and information about how to apply to VBM online in late July. These individuals will not receive a mail-in application. These individuals will be identified in the regular Canvass, which takes place before elections when the Board sends voter registration cards to registered voters so their addresses can be verified.  

Individuals who apply to VBM in June and early July will receive a new voter card with confirmation that they applied online for VBM. 

As soon as the Governor signs the legislation, voters will be able to apply online for a VBM ballot. If a voter applies online for a VBM ballot before a VBM application has been sent, that information will be on their record; they do not need to send another application.  

The Board has approximately 350,000 email addresses for voters, and as soon as we launch the online system, we will be sending out email invitations to apply to VBM. That has always given us a great starting point in the past, but we expect the response to be at least two or three times as large this time. And we can use that email to encourage our voters to share the link with their friends. 

The Board expects that VBM ballots will be mailed to voters after September 24. The completed ballot must be returned (postmarked) by or on November 3. 

Voters who choose not to use USPS to return their completed ballots may deposit them in secure collection boxes at most if not all Early Voting sites so VBM voters, especially those voting in the last few days before Election Day, may avoid mail delays or questions about postmarks. The collection boxes also will reduce pressure on Early Voting and Election Day voting. The Board anticipates using Early Voting as universal vote centers on Election Day, just as they were used in the spring primary. 

Election Judges 

The legislation provides that any U.S. citizen 16 years of age or older may serve as an election judge after undergoing training. High school students, community college and university students will be notified of the opportunity to serve as election judges, and the Illinois Department of Employment Security will be required to notify the unemployed that they can serve and be paid as election judges without endangering their unemployment benefits. 

Voter Registration Procedures

Online is operative; the applicants must be in the Secretary of State’s database (e.g., with a driver’s license or state ID) and know the last four digits of their SSN. use of the mail in form (for voter registration or address change.  Any paper registrations (forms 275, or form 276 should be mailed to the Chicago Board of Elections, 69 W Washington, 60602. It is also expected that a secure drop box will become available. These must be received by October 6th.

The State Board of Elections will be adding a feature to the online registration system that allows those who (a) register for the first time online, (b) file a name change online, or (c) file an address change online, to also be able to check a box to apply to VBM. Those VBM applications will be transferred to the local election authorities. 

November 2020 General Election

On November 3, Illinois voters will go to the polls to elect:

  •  President and Vice President of the United States   

  • United States Senator (statewide for a 6-year term)   

  • Representatives in Congress (one in each district to a 2-year term)   

  • State Senators (to a 2-year term) in these districts that are partially or entirely in the City of Chicago: 1, 4, 7, 10, 11, 13, 16, 28   

  • Representatives in the General Assembly (one in each district to a 2-year term)   

  • Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (3 to be elected for 6-year terms)   

  • Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County (countywide to a 4-year term)   State's Attorney of Cook County (countywide to a 4-year term)   

  • Commissioner of the Board of Review of Cook County (District 1 only)   

  • Illinois Supreme Court, Illinois Appellate Court, Cook County Circuit and Cook County Subcircuit Judges to fill vacancies 

To be decided: 

  • Whether the ballot will include a proposed Fair-Tax Amendment to the Illinois Constitutional that will vary income-tax rates based on income levels.   

  • Retention of Judges   

  • Other binding or non-binding questions that may qualify for the ballot in specific precincts.  Information prepared by Helene Gabelnick, LWV Chicago Voter Service Chair

Key Election Dates 

June XX* to October 29: Period when voters may apply for a Vote By Mail ballot. 
*The start of this application process is the date when pending legislation is signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker. Vote By Mail ballots must be postmarked on or before November 3. 

September 24: Start of Early Voting & New Voter Registration at Chicago Board of Elections, 69 W Washington. Residents may register to vote and vote at the same time. 

October 6: Deadline for arrival of mailed or delivered paper voter registration applications.  

October 18: Deadline for online voter registration. 

October 19 to November 2:  Period when Early Voting & New Voter Registration takes place at locations in all 50 wards and at the Super Site, 191 N Clark. Residents may register and vote at the same time. 

November 3:  ELECTION DAY (6 am-7 pm). Residents may register and vote at their assigned polling places. 

TBD** Dates for training election judges.

The above dates were compiled on May 26. For the latest information, consult the Chicago Board of Elections website.





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