Kendall County voters have been able to cast their ballots by mail for years, but relatively few have done so. But this fall, under a new state law, the Kendall County Clerk and all county clerks across the state are required to send out mail-in voter applications and timeline forms to all voters who cast ballots in either the 2018 general election, the 2019 consolidated election or the 2020 general primary election. Voters who submit their applications for a mail-in ballot by Oct. 1 will receive their ballots by Oct. 6.
Kendall County Clerk Debbie Gillette told the County Board on June 16 that her office will make the application forms available on her office’s website and mail out applications to every registered voter in the county, not just those who voted in the three most recent elections.
“We just want to make sure that everybody has that opportunity and to help with the whole stay-at-home order and the spreading of this [COVID-19] virus – just for ease of voters, to offer them to everybody,” Gillette said.
Gillette said the state-imposed expansion of mail-in balloting will come at an additional cost to the county, but noted the state will offer grants to counties to help offset their additional expenses.
While many on the political right, all the way up to President Donald Trump, have charged that mail-in voting has the potential to result in widespread voter fraud, we have yet to see any nonpartisan study that substantiates any of those allegations. Certainly, the risk of voter fraud is offset by the need to protect the public’s health amid a historic pandemic.
Although presidential elections historically have attracted the largest voter turnout in Kendall County and across the country, the pandemic could well serve to keep health conscious voters and election judges at home throughout the October early voting period and on election day, Nov. 3. The end result of such a scenario could be what we saw happen during recent elections in Georgia and neighboring Wisconsin, where voters had no choice but to stand in long lines to cast their ballots while risking their health amid the pandemic.
We commend Gillette for her plan to send out mail-in voter application forms to all of the county’s nearly 80,000 registered voters and advise her to anticipate that a very high percentage of county voters will opt to protect their health and the health of county election judges by voting by mail this fall.