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More than 1 million people in Illinois have requested mail-in ballots, election board says

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked no later than Election Day and received by Nov. 17 to be counted

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — With still about 10 weeks before the general election, more than 1 million people in Illinois have requested vote-by-mail ballots, according to the state's board of elections.

The number of requests puts Illinois on pace to exceed the record it set for voting by mail in the 2018 election in which 430,000 votes were cast by mail, accounting for 9.3% of all ballots, the board said in a press release. During the 2016 general election, 370,000 votes – 6.5% of all ballots – were cast by mail. 

This summer, the state’s 108 local election authorities sent mail ballot applications to 6.4 million people Illinois who voted in three prior elections.

The mailings were required under a series of special election laws passed by the Illinois General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The 1,111,387 mail ballot applications received to date likely is lower than the actual total, as 28 Illinois election authorities have not yet reported their totals, the release said. 

“We are encouraged by the strong response to the ongoing vote-by-mail effort,” said State Board of Elections Executive Director Steve Sandvoss. “Voting by mail provides a safe, secure and convenient voting option for those concerned about COVID-19. It also will help ease congestion at in-person polling places during early voting and on Election Day.” 

The Illinois Board of Elections encouraged voters who are considering voting by mail to submit their ballot application as early as possible. Ballots will be mailed to applicants beginning Sept. 24, the first day of early voting. 

Applications will be accepted through Oct. 29, but the board recommended voters apply by Oct. 15. This will allow sufficient time for delivery of the ballot to the voter. Local election authorities will provide voters with information on returning and tracking their ballots. 

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked no later than Election Day, Nov. 3, and received by Nov. 17 to be counted.

Voters can apply for a mail ballot on the Illinois Board of Elections website.