by Kyla Hurt
Application in mail is only first step to vote
Morgan County Clerk Jill Waggener begins, “This whole process with voting by mail … and everyone [thinking] they’re getting a ballot. They’re not getting a ballot.”
There seems to be a lot of confusion out there, fears Waggener, who hopes to clear things up with the following information. Furthermore, she notes that she, along with her staff, welcome questions of voters that are still unclear on the processes this year.
“With the new legislation that Governor Pritzker signed on June 16th, I want to clarify any misconceptions that people may have about the vote by mail. Voters who participated in the 2018 general election, 2019 consolidated election and the 2020 general primary are the only voters that will qualify to automatically receive an application to vote by mail. If they choose to vote by mail, they will need to sign the application and mail it back to our office. The first day that we can begin to mail ballots out is September 24th. The last day that I can receive an application is October 29th for us to be able to mail a ballot out. Once we receive the signed application, the procedure will be followed as normal to mail them a ballot,” explains Waggener.
The month of July is when people will be receiving these applications. Again, Waggener stresses that this first step is only an application. Mailing in the application is not a vote; this is not a ballot that is being mailed to you in July.
Once the application is sent and received so the actual ballot can be sent to the voter, the ballot by mail includes a postage-paid return envelope. Thus, people can mail their ballot back; however, Waggener said if they feel more comfortable delivering them, they could. There is also a drop box just to the west of the main door on the north side of the courthouse (Waggener noted that it is the same door that people use when dropping off taxes.).
For those that will not automatically receive an application, Waggener says that the process is the same as the past years. “Call my office at 217-243-8581 and request an application. My staff will verify some of your information and an application will be mailed out.”
Waggener did note that it is not mandatory to vote by mail, saying, “No one by any means is required to vote by mail if they choose not to. This is just another option offered for this election only due to the current situation and happenings.”
According to Waggener, early voting will still be offered in this office, beginning September 24 through November 2. On Election Day, all polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Also, if someone is unsure if they are registered or where to go to vote, he or she can again call the office and find out that information.
“For people who choose to vote on Election Day, please be patient at your polling places. We are in the process of adding safety measures for not only them as a voter, but for my election judges, as well. Some of the precautions … we will offer hand sanitizer, my judges will be wiping down markers and voting booths, we will using disposable styluses for the touch screen voting machines and we will be observing the six-foot social distancing.”
There will be a “specimen ballot” available most probably close to the start of October for those voters interested in looking it over, noted Waggener. That, too, will be accessible at the Morgan County Courthouse. This November’s ballot will hold federal, state and local races.
“If anyone should have any questions concerning the vote by mail, early voting or Election Day voting, we’re always here to answer your questions or find answers if we don’t know. This is a new election for all of us, so my office is trying to take all precautions to make it a good election and again, we’re just asking for everyone’s patience and to please bear with us. It’s as new to us as it is to them,” reminded Waggener. Election Day is November 3.