Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a pair of new laws today in Springfield, which aim to make it easier for Illinois residents to head to the polls in November and cast a vote on (or ahead of) Election Day. Among the most notable effects of the bills is the designation of November 3 as a state holiday in Illinois, meaning that all government offices (except election officials, K-12 schools and some post-secondary schools) will get the day off. It's possible that some businesses throughout the state will follow suit, but anyone who has worked on Casimir Pulaski Day or Lincoln's birthday knows that state holidays don't always translate to time off.
The state of Illinois is also attempting to make it easier to vote by mail, requiring that local election offices mail or email vote-by-mail ballot applications to voters who cast a ballot in the 2018 general election, the 2019 consolidated election or the 2020 general primary election. Any voter that submits a vote-by-mail application by October 1 should receive a ballot by October 6. Additionally, Illinois online voter registration systems will be modified to allow individuals registering to vote to apply for a vote-by-mail ballot at the same time.
If you prefer to vote in person, the new Illinois law also expands early voting hours, requiring permanent branch polling places to be open from 8:30am to 7pm on weekdays and from 9am to 5pm on the weekends and holidays. Curbside voting will also be permitted, allowing voters to fill out a ballot outside of a polling place if they choose to do so.
"In the face of a pandemic, massive economic upheaval, and renewed calls for racial justice, it's more important than ever that Illinoisans can hold accountable a truly representative and transparent government—and that means ensuring all eligible residents can wield their right to vote in a way that doesn't risk their personal health," said Gov. Pritzker said in a press release.
While Election Day is still months away, there's no time like the present to make sure that you're registered to vote in Cook County so that you can request a vote-by-mail ballot, vote early or head to the polls on November 3.
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