Mail-in voting up seven percentage points in 2022 Illinois primaries

(Next year voters will pay mail-in ballot postage in Peoria)
Published: Jul. 1, 2022 at 6:36 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25 News Now) - Mail-in voting increased substantially in the 2022 Illinois primary elections, even as turnout dipped to 19 percent statewide.

The Illinois State Board of Elections says vote-by-mail is up seven percentage points from the 2020 primaries, which were conducted at the start of the pandemic. Vote-by-mail represented nine percent of total ballots cast in the 2020 primaries, and it spiked to 16 percent this year.

“Getting 16% of the vote by mail is fairly remarkable,” State Board of Elections spokesperson Matt Dietrich said. “It makes me inclined to think that a lot of people who voted in 2020 by mail, liked it, and trust it.”

Dietrich emphasized that mail-in voting is just as safe and as secure as casting a ballot at a polling place. He says they expect mail-in numbers to remain strong for the General Election this November. Past that, they are looking toward other states, like Washington and Oregon, which conduct their voting fully by-mail.

“It is a big cost-saver because you don’t have to rent polling places,” Dietrich said. “You don’t have to hire, and recruit, and pay election judges.”

Any change like that would take time, and it would have to pass through the General Assembly first. In the meantime, Dietrich says the vote-by-mail percentage in Illinois could increase to over 20 percent, but he doesn’t expect it will ever eclipse in-person election day totals.

In contrast, Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman says voting by-mail in his county actually dropped by almost 50-percent from 2020, although that election was in a presidential year, which usually sees higher turnout.

“I think Tazewell County is bucking that trend, where other counties are showing much more growth in vote by mail. It’s growth has come and gone. I think it’s going to stay where it’s at from here on out.”

For this primary election, the total number of mail-in ballots could still increase incrementally. There arte about 150,000 outstanding ballots in the state, which will count if they are postmarked by Election Day and received by election officials by July 12.

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