Vote-by-mail is off to a strong start in Illinois for the midterm election cycle – Crain’s Chicago Business

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Vote-by-mail is off to a strong start in Illinois for the midterm election cycle: Today’s Juice, by Greg Hinz

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In a development likely to give election conspiracy theorists heartburn, voting by mail is off to a solid start here this campaign season–in part due to a new state law that sends ballots automatically to voters who have preregistered for that perk.

As of this weekend, 320,501 voters statewide have requested a mail ballot for the November general election, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections. That’s still a small fraction of the total statewide voter registration of over 8 million but the figure is likely to grow quickly in the coming weeks given that one can apply for a mail ballot as late as five days before Election Day.

While some of those voters have specifically requested a mail ballot for this election, many appear to stem from a new state law that allows one to permanently register for a mail ballot instead of asking each time, according to board spokesman Matt Dietrich.

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Figures from major jurisdictions around the state appear to confirm that.

For instance, according to the Chicago Board of Elections, more than 100,000 permanent mail voters in the city received a notice on Aug. 10 telling them to expect a ballot to arrive at their registered address later this fall. The Chicago Board put forward a push for such registrations earlier this year.

In DuPage County, County Clerk Jean Kaczmarek’s office just sent notes to 600,000 registered voters reminding them they can register for permanent mail status or, as an alternative under another new program, vote in any precinct in the county, not just their home precinct.

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Already, nearly 50,000 voters in DuPage–a one-time GOP stronghold that has turned purple–have registered to vote by mail every election, Kaczmarek said. That’s almost one in 10.

Meanwhile, a new round of election skepticism has hit the state board. According to Dietrich, callers and emailers “believe we are selling their (registration) information to Rock the Vote,” a left-leaning group that appeals to young people. The board has neither sold nor given any information to Rock the Vote, Dietrich says.

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September 19, 2022 at 07:50AM

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