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Local

Vote by mail encouraged for residents concerned about COVID-19

HENNEPIN — With coronavirus a continuing concern as the 2020 general election approaches, Putnam County Clerk Daniel S. Kuhn encourages voters to consider voting by mail as a safe, secure and convenient option to in-person voting.

The Illinois General Assembly signed into law on June 16, Public Acts 101-641 and 101-642 that provides many safeguards against the spread of coronavirus in the voting process for the Nov. 3 general election. Chief among them are provisions to increase voting by mail throughout the state of Illinois.

“Voting by mail has grown in popularity over recent elections, but it remains an unfamiliar process to most voters. The Putnam County Clerk and Election Authority’s Office can be an important asset in educating voters about the availability and security of voting by mail and the process for obtaining and returning mail ballots.”

Among the special vote-by-mail provisions for the 2020 general election are:

• All voters who voted in either the March 2020 primary, April 2019 consolidated or November 2018 general election will receive by mail an application for vote-by-mail ballot.

• Those who registered to vote or updated their registration between March 18 and July 31 will be mailed an application for vote-by-mail ballot.

• The state’s online voter registration site now allows users to request a vote-by-mail ballot when they register.

• Go to il-putnam.ballotrequest.net to submit your application for a ballot request or return to the Putnam County Clerk’s office by mail, in person or by email to: pcelections@co.putnam.il.us.

• Ballots will be mailed to applicants beginning Sept. 24, which is also the first day of early voting.

• The deadline for applying for a vote-by-mail ballot is 4 p.m. Oct. 29. After Oct. 29, voters can still receive a vote-by-mail ballot by applying in person at the Office of the Putnam County Clerk and Election Authority Office, 120 N. Fourth St., Hennepin. Ballots must be postmarked no later than Nov. 3 to be accepted and properly postmarked ballots will be accepted through Nov. 17.

The new law also establishes protocols to ensure proper verification of ballots before they are accepted and to inform voters in a timely manner if their ballot is rejected. This begins with a review of the voter’s signature by a panel of three election judges within two days of receipt of the ballot. A ballot may be rejected for an invalid signature only by a unanimous decision of the judges.

The ballot may be rejected if two of the three judges agree that:

• The ballot envelope was delivered opened.

• The certification envelope contains no signature.

• The voter has already cast a ballot.

• The voter voted in person on Election Day.

• The voter is not a duly registered voter.

If a ballot is rejected based on a signature or lack of signature or because the ballot envelope was delivered opened, the voter must be notified within two days or within one day if the rejection occurs after Election Day. The new law contains provisions for the voter to address these problems.

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