Admonishing his Democrat colleagues for “never letting a good crisis go to waste,” State Representative Andrew Chesney criticized a number of elements of the Democrats omnibus election bill (Senate Bill 1863), which includes the following provisions:
- Provisions only effective for the 2020 General Election
- In-person voting still allowed on Election Day and early, expands early voting hours
- Makes Election Day a State holiday for schools and universities, allowing those locations to serve as polling places
- Any registered voter who voted in the 2018, 2019 and 2020 will be mailed a Vote By Mail (VBM) application
- The Illinois Secretary of State will conduct a taxpayer-funded “chase” program for VBM applicants encouraging them to return their VBM application or ballot
- Allows curbside voting
- Allows for remote VBM drop boxes, where a local election authority can set up an off-site location for VBM ballots to be dropped off, potentially by a partisan political operative through a process known as ballot harvesting; there are concerns about whether a ballot would be secure from tampering
- Raises the threshold for objections to signatures on VBM ballots, must be unanimous among Republican and Democrat election judges to toss out a VBM ballot
- Total program has an unknown cost to taxpayers, but will be upwards of $16 million, per a fiscal note filed on the bill.
- If local election authorities do not comply with this Act, the State has the ability to withhold State and Federal funds for local units of government
“There are zero safeguards in this bill to prevent voter fraud or VBM ballot harvesting from partisan political operatives. There are no guarantees that local election authorities are cleaning the voter rolls every two years, as state law requires. There are no protections against VBM ballot applications being mailed to voters who don’t meet residency requirements in a particular jurisdiction, such as university towns,” said Rep. Chesney.
“What’s clear is this – Democrat lawmakers are using the Coronavirus pandemic to enact new election laws that tilt elections in their favor. You might as well nickname this bill Operation COVFEFE-Commencement of Voter Fraud to End Fair Elections (COVFEFE),” Chesney chided.
SB 1873 passed along a partisan roll call in the Illinois House on Thursday evening and will now go back to the Senate for concurrence. Chesney was one of the NO votes.