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Vote-by-mail applications join the flood of 2020 election mail

County clerks concerned that voters are being confused by growing number of third-party vote-by-mail applications

GALESBURG, Illinois — People across Illinois and Iowa are being flooded by 2020 election mail. County clerks and auditors are sending vote-by-mail applications as part of broader policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In a typical presidential election year, Knox County Clerk Scott Erickson says his office mails about 1,000 vote-by-mail applications. This year, it was more than 8,500. 

"Folding, stuffing, sealing, running them through the postage machine, loading the stuff up the back of my truck and driving it to the post office," Erickson said.

But political parties and special interest groups are also filling voters' mailboxes with third-party vote-by-mail applications, adding to the flood of election mail and creating confusion for voters like Salbator Leon.

"Probably I’ve gotten at least four," Leon said. "There might be a duplication here," he said, looking at some of the mail he has received in recent days.

Erickson says most of the third-party vote-by-mail applications are legitimate and will work just fine. However, he still suggests and Knox County voters return applications sent by his office.

"We can process these faster sometimes because there's an actual barcode that has an identifier piece on there, so we can scan those into our voter registration system," Erickson said.