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Bill Expanding Curbside, Mail Voting Headed For Governor's Desk

Voters cast their ballots
Ryan Denham
Voters cast their ballots for the November 2020 election at an early voting site inside Bloomington's Eastland Mall. A bill passed by the General Assembly will make additional voting options for Illinois voters permanent.

A bill that would expand voting rights is on its way to the governor after passing the Illinois Senate on Thursday. It would increase vote-by-mail options and allow curbside voting permanently.

The bill received bipartisan support, passing the Senate with only seven votes against it. All of those votes came from Republicans.

In the Peoria area, State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, voted in favor of the bill, as did State Sen. Dave Koehler, D-Peoria. State Sen. Sally Turner, R-Beason, a former Logan County clerk, joined the Democrats in voting "yes." State Sen. Win Stoller, R-Peoria, voted against the bill, as did State Reps. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, Keith Sommer, R-Morton, and Mark Luft, R-Pekin. 

In the Bloomington area, State Rep. Dan Brady, R-Bloomington, voted against the bill, along with State Rep. Dan Caulkins, R-Decatur. State Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, voted against the bill, while State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, was not present for the Senate vote owing to a work conflict.

The legislation wouid require election authorities to accept all mail ballots returned to them, even those without postage. The bill allows for the continued use of mail ballot collection boxes. 

Democratic state Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Frankfort, said the bill is important after states such as Georgia tried to limit voting by restricting access to drop boxes or criminalizing giving food and drinks to people waiting in line to vote.

"Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy upon which all of our civil liberties rest," said Hastings. "This is the right thing to do on behalf of all Illinois residents."

He said the bill will remain important even after the pandemic.

"Coming off of COVID, some people still just don't feel comfortable voting," said Hastings. "That's why we should focus on expanding one's ability to vote and the security of that vote."

State Sen. Jacqueline Collins, D-Chicago, said the bill would give groups such as people with disabilities the chance to cast a ballot when they might not be able to otherwise.

"When we protect voting rights, all voices are made more powerful," said Collins. "Republican and Democrat votes, the young and the old, the black and brown and white. All voices are heard." 

The bill has received support from groups such as the NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Illinois, along with the Illinois Association of County Clerks and Recorders. The Illinois Family Institute filed against the bill.

If Gov. JB Pritzker signs the bill, it will go into effect immediately.

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