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Sep 18

Statement Regarding Vote by Mail Letter from the Secretary of State to Voters

Posted on September 18, 2020 at 10:27 PM by Robert Watson

Voters, We understand the confusion and frustration many of you may be feeling after receiving a letter from the Secretary of State’s office concerning your vote by mail application. We have received dozen of phone calls, emails, and personal visits from voters who are angry or seeking clarification on the status of their vote by mail application.

If you are uncertain of your vote by mail application status, please contact your local election authority and they will gladly let you know if (a) it has been received, (b) if it has been processed, and (c) if there were any issues with the application.

Below you will find a copy of a press release from McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael and Tim Mitchell, Executive Director, Bloomington Election Commission. In addition, this is a highlighted portion of Illinois Senate Bill 1863 (SB 1863), the new law passed this year regarding the 2020 General Election.

If you don’t have time to read the press release or SB 1863, there are a few takeaways we want to ensure you know.
  1. We only share information with the Illinois State Board of Elections (ISBE), which is legally mandated. The only information is whether or not someone has requested a vote by mail ballot.
  2. The status provided by the Secretary of State’s Office does not necessarily reflect the actual status in our office. We continue to process vote by mail applications which may not have been processed when the ISBE pulled the records to send the letter.
  3. The Secretary of State was legally mandated to send this letter, and much of the language in it, as a part of SB1863. The Secretary of State is also mandated to send a similar letter “No later than October 15, 2020."

Statement from McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael and Tim Mitchell Executive Director, Bloomington Election Commission on Vote by Mail Letter sent by Secretary of State’s Office to Voters

Over the past few days, many McLean County and City of Bloomington voters have received a letter from Secretary of State Jesse White’s office alerting them that they have not applied for a Vote by Mail ballot, and they should contact our office to complete their application. These letters have been sent to voters throughout Illinois from the Secretary of State’s office. These letters were not sent by our offices. Furthermore we were not informed of the content of the letter nor contacted to provide input.

The letters were part of the mandate of SB 1863, the election bill passed by the state legislature in May as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It requires election authorities, such as the McLean County Clerk, to send a mail ballot application to every voter who has voted in any of the past three elections. The law also stipulates that the Secretary of State shall send, by Sept. 15, 2020, a notice to any voter in Illinois who received an application for a vote by mail ballot but according to State Board of Elections records has not yet applied for a vote by mail ballot.

However, the notices do not accurately reflect the current status of Vote by Mail applications our offices have received from McLean County and City of Bloomington voters. Many voters who have applied for mail ballots, as well as voters who have no interest in voting by mail, have received these letters.

We assure those who have applied for ballots to be mailed that our offices have been processing your applications, and vote by mail ballots will be sent to voters who have requested them beginning September 24 and should start arriving in homes the following week. Voters will receive confirmation that your ballot has been received.

Several Early Voting opportunities and Election Day polling places will be available as always to any voters who prefer to utilize those options. All polling locations are scheduled to be open for in person voting on Election Day. Please check our websites for all election information. Early voting begins this coming Thursday, September 24 at our new location the Grossinger Motors Arena, downtown Bloomington from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.

Kathy Michael, McLean County Clerk

Tim Mitchell, Executive Director, Bloomington Election Commission