Illinois Governor Signs Law Making Election Day a Holiday, Expanding Voting by Mail

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zack Stieber covers the major news of the day. Previously, he worked as a New York City metro reporter.
June 18, 2021 Updated: June 18, 2021

The governor of Illinois this week signed legislation that lets voters apply to permanently case ballots via mail and makes Election Day a state holiday.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, said the bill “articulates the rights of Illinois citizens to vote by mail, allows those awaiting trial to cast their ballots, and makes a state holiday of Election Day 2022.”

“With attacks on voting rights on the rise in states across the nation, Illinois is proud to stand up for a strong, secure, and accessible democracy,” he said in a statement.

The Democrat-controlled legislature previously passed the legislation, which also pushes the primaries next year from March 15 to June 28.

Other provisions include letting sheriffs establish polling locations at local county jails, which has already been a practice in Cook County, entrenching curbside voting in state law, extending hours at permanent polling places, and placing voters whose application for permanent vote-by-mail status is accepted to remain on a permanent absentee ballot list until the voter requests to be removed or state election officials find that the voter has registered to vote in another county.

All qualified voters will be notified of the opportunity to get on the list.

State Rep. Maurice West, a Democrat who sponsored the bill, said last month after its House passage that it “makes it easier for people to permanently receive a mail-in ballot, make curbside voting permanent, and set up voting centers on Election Day where anyone within the election’s jurisdiction could vote, regardless of the precinct of their residence.”

“Voter empowerment is what we do in Illinois!” he added.

The Illinois Republican Party and the Illinois Senate Republicans did not respond to requests for comment on the legislation, which takes effect immediately.

Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.), chairwoman of the Democratic party of Illinois, recently described Senate Bill 825 as “a comprehensive election bill that makes voting a priority by making it more accessible.”

“This keeps in place a number of voter conveniences that have proven popular,” said Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, a Democrat, after Pritzker signed the law. “It’s a great example of lawmakers listening to the diverse voices of voters and taking steps to maintain and encourage voter participation.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zack Stieber covers the major news of the day. Previously, he worked as a New York City metro reporter.