New State Law Encourages Vote By Mail This November County Clerk Explains What It Means For Macoupin
Carlinville, Illinois – Since the March 17th Primary in Illinois right at the start of changes from the COVID-19 pandemic, elections across the country have adopted and changed. With uncertainty about what the November 3rd Election could look like, the State legislature recently passed a new, temporary law to ensure every voter who wants to vote in the November Presidential Election can do so safely and confidently.
Macoupin County Clerk Pete Duncan recently announced what those changes mean for Macoupin County voters directly.
1) Polling places will still be open on Election Day, but they will meet the health safety guidelines provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health for polling places. While those guidelines have not yet been released, it is possible in November polling places will require masks, have hand sanitizer available, have plexiglass barriers between judges and voters and require six foot social distancing. Early voting will still take place at the Courthouse and will follow the same safety guidelines as polling places.
2) All registered voters in Macoupin who have not already applied for a vote by mail ballot will be mailed an application to vote at home on August 1st. No one will receive a ballot in the mail unless they apply for one. In the coming days, Macoupin voters will be able to apply to vote at home. If someone is planning on voting at home, they are encouraged to apply this summer.
3) Any voter who has applied to have a ballot mailed to them before Thursday, September 24th will have their ballot mailed out on September 24th. Every new application that comes in after the 24th will a ballot mailed within 2 business days.
4) For the first time this Election, voters in Macoupin County will be able to track their ballot being mailed to them and then track it being sent back into the Election office, just like a package they ordered online. Once it’s received by the Election office, they will be able to use the online lookup to check if their ballot is counted, something Macoupin has offered since 2012.
5) In Macoupin County, no voter will need to pay for postage to vote by mail. Prepaid postage will be placed on any envelope needed for voting by mail.
6) Once a voter receives their ballot, they can vote at their convenience. Ballots can be mailed back any time before Election Day, and the deadline for returning them is either their ballot is postmarked by November 3rd or they can personally return their ballot to the Courthouse by 7:00 pm on Election Day.
Duncan said as part of this new law, his office was launching a “Vote at Home: Mail It Back Macoupin” Initiative. “Voters deserve a choice in how they want to cast their ballot this November,” Duncan said. “What I learned from our primary happening right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic is far too many voters don’t realize they have the choice to vote by mail every election. We are taking the steps to educate and ensure every voter that they can vote by mail and it is safe, secure and free for them to do.”
Duncan said while the COVID-19 pandemic is one main reason someone may want to vote by mail, but that’s not the only reason to not wait until Election Day. “Just this year, the Tennessee primary had a major tornado rip through Nashville hours before the polls opened. The New Hampshire primary saw a blizzard hit overnight before voters were to head to their polling place. How many people may have not been able to cast their ballot because of these acts of God? Hopefully, we have a perfect day on November 3rd for people to cast their ballot, but I know I’m not risking my vote not being counted because I want to wait to vote at my polling place.”
As part of this initiative, Duncan said his office had prepared a special webpage for voters with questions about voting at home. There is a step by step instructions for voting at home by mail, important dates, frequently asked questions about security and prevention of fraud with mail ballots, facts vs. myths on voting at home, as well as the online application for those who would like a ballot mailed to them. Voters should head towww.macoupinvotes.com/voteathome to find out more. These pages will be updated as we get closer to the Election with more information.