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Sen. Turner Announces Legislation Aiming To Standardize State Election Process

Sally Turner
State Sen. Sally Turner, R-Beason, says her six terms as Logan County Clerk contributed to her work on legislation that would make changes to how election preparation and procedures are carried out.

A Republican state senator from Beason wants to standardize election practices across the state. She says she wants to bring transparency to the election process.

Sally Turner said the bill draws from her six terms of experience as Logan County clerk.

“There's nothing more important than casting a ballot on election day,” said Turner, whose district includes parts of Bloomington, Morton and Washington. “Now, as a state senator, I'm continuing my public service.”

Under the legislation, election judges could be required to explain the reasons for delays in reporting election returns. Turner said it’s a matter of providing voters immediate access to information.

“Some of these delays are not apparent to the average observer,” said Turner. “Many of you (were) probably sitting at the television wondering, ‘Why is it taking so long? Why isn't that return coming in?’ and sometimes they're beyond our control.”

State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, is a co-sponsor of the bill. She emphasized the need for accountability.

“These reforms have nothing to do with previous elections, and are only meant to create standardized practices among our election authorities,” said Rezin.

After last year’s election, former President Donald Trump and many other Republicans across the country falsely claimed there was significant voter fraud. Rezin said the bill was not a response to those concerns.

Among other changes, the bill would require audits of some mail ballots that arrive after election day, in a process Turner said would mimic a process already in place for auditing voting machines. Election authorities would also have to post their procedures for processing mail ballots well before the election takes place.

“The more we let the individuals know, the voters know how these processes work, the better educated they are, the more helpful that is to county clerks,” said Turner.

Turner said the changes would not create additional burdens for election judges or clerk staff. Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman said election judges there have appreciated the expansion of training in recent years.

“They want to know that they're doing the job right,” said Ackerman. “They know the value and the importance of being an election judge. They want to make sure that they're fulfilling that commitment to the best of their abilities.”

Darren Bailey, a Republican senator from Xenia who's currently running for governor, is a co-sponsor on the legislation.

The bill has no support from Democrats currently. In a legislature where Republicans are a superminority, that makes the bill unlikely to pass before the end of session later this month.

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Christine Hatfield, a graduate student in University of Illinois Springfield's Public Affairs Reporting program, is WGLT and WCBU's PAR intern for the first half of 2021.
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