What are the facts about voting by mail in Illinois?

What are the facts about voting by mail in Illinois?

Applications are open for registered voters to apply to vote by mail in the upcoming April 4 local elections.

Illinois Policy encourages you to fill out the form from your county clerk and register for permanent vote-by-mail status to claim your vote.

Permanently voting by mail ensures your ballot comes to your mailing address every election so you never miss a chance to voice your opinion on candidates and issues that affect your state and local taxes.

Here is what you need to know about voting by mail:

  • It’s safe and secure – and it protects your vote. 
  • It reminds you of upcoming elections. 
  • It allows you to research candidates while you vote. 
  • It lets you vote early. 
  • It still gives you the option to vote in person. 

Here are some common myths about voting by mail:

MYTH: Anyone can intercept the mail and vote someone else’s ballot.

FALSE: Every return ballot envelope is signed by the voter, and each signature is validated based on official signatures already on file. If the signature doesn’t match, the voter is contacted immediately and given multiple paths to resolve the discrepancy. This “cure” period extends 14 days after Election Day to allow all votes to be counted.

MYTH: Vote-by-mail ballots are thrown out if they arrive after Election Day and are only counted if there is a close race.

FALSE: County election officials will process and count all valid vote-by-mail ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day and arrive no later than 14 days after the election.

MYTH: Voters move around and don’t update their addresses, leaving ballots floating around that other people can use.

FALSE: Vote-by-mail ballots are not forwarded in the mail and voter registration information is updated if you move. Illinois uses automated address updates through voter registration procedures, the U.S. Postal Service’s National Change of Address database and the Electronic Registration Information Center to ensure proactive address updates.

MYTH: If you mail ballots to more voters, people will ask for “replacement ballots” and vote multiple times or duplicate the ballot and vote multiple times.

FALSE: Ballot envelopes use bar codes linked to the individual voter. Ballots in an envelope with no bar code are rejected.

MYTH: If you mail out ballots, non-citizens will be able to vote and so will deceased people.

FALSE: Ballots only go to active registered voters. The question of U.S. citizenship is handled during the voter registration process, which occurs before a ballot can be mailed. Illinois has automated processes to regularly match death records to the voter registration lists to prevent ballots from going to a deceased voter.

MYTH: Encouraging more convenient voting options such as voting by mail is a plot from the political left. 

FALSE: Many Republican-dominated states have expanded the use of vote-at-home options, including Utah, a decidedly “red” state, which has become the fourth full vote-at-home state.

MYTH: It is so easy to divert ballots. People will do it and only get a slap on the wrist if caught. 

FALSE: In Illinois, if you intentionally tamper with or divert a mailed-out ballot, it is a Class 3 felony, punishable by a $25,000 fine and up to five years in jail for each ballot. Stiff penalties make the risk-reward equation of someone interfering with an election intimidating.

Learn more about common myths here and why Illinois Policy endorses registering for permanent vote-by-mail status.

Claim your vote today. Visit your clerk’s website at this link to register and apply by mail or online.

You can also access your county clerk’s mail ballot application directly below for those counties offering online registration:

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