Mailing It In: More Illinois Voters Are Casting Ballots Through The Postal System

Oct 23, 2018

Credit flickr/Frankileon

In recent years, Illinois made it easier to vote by mail.  It appears more people are taking advantage.  

More than 450-thousand mail-in ballots have been sent out in the state this year – and with time left, that number will go higher.  The ballots must be returned with a postmark of Election Day November 6th or earlier.    

Illinois used to require those voting by mail, or absentee, to provide a reason as to why they couldn’t vote in person.  But no more. 

“Everybody still uses the term absentee voting because we used it for so long, but it doesn’t exist as a legal term in Illinois anymore.  It’s vote by mail now," said Matt Dietrich, spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections. "You don’t need an excuse.  And you don’t even need to leave your house. You can usually apply on line through the county clerk’s office and have them send it to you.”

An indication of how this way of voting has caught on?  The number of ballots sent to voters for the mid-term election has already has topped the number of mail-in votes cast in 2016.  Of course, that was a presidential election, where overall turnout is usually much larger. That signals a larger percentage of those voting this year using the mail to cast a ballot.     

Dietrich said the popularity is likely to keep growing in the future.

“There’s a big movement now to not necessarily eliminate Election Day voting in Illinois, but to really aggressively push voting by mail as an alternative,” he said.

The law allows votes cast by mail to be counted up to 14 days after the polls close.    

Early voting began in late September in Illinois.  Many areas offered limited locations to vote in person, but numerous other sites opened this week in the final push to Election Day.