Election official: Illinois needs to change early voting rules

CHICAGO (Illinois News Network) — There’s a growing push to change how Illinois handles early voting.

The first day of early voting for the March 20th primary was Feb. 8. That’s 40 days before the election.

Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago spokesman Jim Allen told a crowd at an Illinois Campaign for Political Reform event on Thursday that Illinois’ early voting law is unworkable because it requires local election offices to be ready a month and ten days before the actual election day.

“Forty days is a Biblical number. It doesn’t work for elections,” Allen said. “It’s time in the desert, it’s time on the mount, it’s not early voting time. We were doing great with 15 to 20 days for many, many years.”

Allen said that most local election offices across the state agree with him.

Illinois changed the voting law back in 2015. Lawmakers essentially rolled what was called absentee voting into early voting. That’s how Illinois came to have 40 days of early voting.

The requirement that early voting begin that early, Allen said, causes problems with ballot challenges.

And he said it expects too much from voters.

“Early voting is a function of people having their minds made up. Forty days is too soon. People don’t have their minds made up for all of these little offices on the ballot,” Allen said. “It’s a waste of taxpayer money. We don’t have the facilities to offer it.”

For the November 7th election, people will be able to star voting on September 27th.

Allen said the data agrees with him. Allen told the crowd that most people who voted early last month cast their ballot in the last week or so of early voting.

Early voting jumped for last month’s primary. Chicago and Cook County set early voting records.

Written by Benjamin Yount. Yount is an industry veteran with two decades experience in media and reports Illinois statewide issues for the Illinois News Network. Yount is also host of Watchdog Radio, a daily program on Cities 92.9 in the Bloomington/Normal area.

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