According to new Illinois legislation applicable only to the Nov. 3 general election, voters in Montgomery County will be mailed a postcard application to vote by mail by Aug. 1, according to Montgomery County Clerk Sandy Leitheiser.
The county clerk emphasized there will not be an automatic mailing of ballots to registered voters, and no one will receive a ballot by mail unless he or she personally applies for one by signing and returning the postcard application from the county clerk’s office, or by using other authorized applications for a vote-by-mail ballot.
According to Leitheiser, every registrant who has applied to have a ballot mailed to them before Thursday, Sept. 24, will have their ballot mailed on that day, which is the first day Illinois law allows ballots to be mailed. Every new vote-by-mail application received by the county clerk’s office after that date will have the ballot mailed within two business days.
Once registrants receive a ballot by mail, they can vote at their convenience, and ballots with certification envelopes signed by the voter must be returned on or before election day on Nov. 3. Voted ballots must be postmarked by election day or can be personally returned by the voter or by another authorized individual through signed affidavit to the county clerk’s office at the Historic Courthouse in Hillsboro by 7 p.m. on election evening.
Polling places will still be open on election day, the county clerk assured, and they will meet safety guidelines provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) at that time, which could include wearing masks and requiring six foot social distancing. Hand sanitizer will be available and election judges will perform proper disinfecting procedures at the polls throughout election day.
Leitheiser said early voting will still take place in the room designed for that purpose at the street-level west side entrance at the Historic Courthouse in Hillsboro and will follow the same IDPH safety guidelines as polling places.
She said the potential of COVID-19 returning this fall may prompt some voters who don’t traditionally vote by mail to consider it for the Nov. 3 general election.
“We are taking the steps necessary to educate and ensure voters they are able to vote by mail and we will do everything we can under Illinois law to make this a safe and secure process,” Leitheiser said. “If voters prefer the polling place experience either by early voting or on election day, my office will strive to make those sites as safe and secure as possible. I commend our dedicated election judges who serve at our polling places for all their assistance with this process.”
Those with questions about voting by mail and the upcoming election procedures may visit the county clerk and recorder’s website at www.montgomeryco.com, which features important dates and information, as well as a downloadable version of a blank vote-by-mail application along with helpful guidelines. Voters may also contact the county clerk’s office directly at 217-532-9530, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or in person at #1 Courthouse Square, Room 102, Hillsboro, IL 62049.