Upon learning that nine Illinoisans tried to receive 2020 election ballots by returning applications that were mailed to deceased people in DuPage County, Representative Mark Batinick is renewing his call for passage of a bill that would have prevented the fraudulent activity from taking place.
When the vote by mail legislation (SB 1863) was being debated in the Illinois House earlier this year, House Republicans simultaneously pushed for the passage of HB 2513, which would require county clerks to scrub the voter rolls regularly to remove the deceased. The majority party dismissed the Republicans’ ballot integrity bill, and pushed through the vote by mail expansion.
“This is exactly the kind of attempted voter fraud we were worried about when the vote by mail bill was being discussed,” said Batinick. “While I fully support vote by mail, we had an opportunity to build protections into the legislation, but those safeguards were labeled as ‘unnecessary’ by the majority party. It now appears our fears were well-founded, because we have some bad actors trying to circumvent our system of democracy by attempting to obtain ballots by claiming to be people who have passed away.”
Through the vote by mail expansion legislation, now known as Public Act 101-0642, millions of dollars were spent to mail ballot applications to an estimated five million voters who voted in 2018, 2019 or 2020. The law also authorized the Secretary of State’s Office to mail multiple follow-up reminders to those who had not returned their application. The law is silent on safety measures to protect against ballot tampering or voter fraud, and includes no safeguards to prevent vote by mail ballot harvesting by bad actors working as political operatives.
“The integrity of our elections is of paramount importance,” continued Batinick. “When a certificate of death is issued, it only makes sense that voter rolls would be updated accordingly. I applaud the DuPage County Clerk’s office for catching the fraudulent ballot requests, but if it’s happening in DuPage, it’s likely it is happening elsewhere. Who knows how many of these faulty ballots are slipping through the cracks.”
While too late to affect the November 2020 ballots, Batinick said he will be pushing for the bill’s passage when the legislature convenes in mid-November for veto session.