Illinois is making last year’s voting rights expansion permanent

Illinois is set to permanently expand voting rights in the state. All that’s needed is Governor Pritzker’s signature.

Illinois was one of several states that expanded voting rights last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, Illinois extended early voting hours, allowed curbside voting, and replaced a single judge verifying signatures with a bipartisan panel. The state also automatically sent vote-by-mail applications to voters who participated in the 2018 general election, the 2019 municipal elections, or the 2020 presidential primary.

“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,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said last June.

However, some of the changes made last year – which passed through the legislative process and the governor signed into law – were set to expire on January 1. Specifically, authorization for ballot drop boxes and curbside voting expired. Before the changes that were made in 2020, state law was silent on ballot drop boxes and curbside voting – neither authorizing their use nor forbidding them.

The latest bill – which passed both the Illinois state House of Representatives and Senate and awaits Governor Pritzker’s signature – makes last year’s changes permanent.

According to The Pantagraph:

The changes include allowing election authorities to install drop box sites where voters can submit mail-in ballots without postage during and on Election Day. The bill also permits curbside voting where people can fill out ballots outside the polling place during early voting and on Election Day.

So while a number of Republican-led states are swiftly moving to restrict voting after a record number of voters exercised their right to vote last November, Illinois is a state where voting rights are expanding.

Photo Credit: Illinois Public Media, Flickr