Measures advance that would make Election Day a state holiday, increase mail-in ballots

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – As work on the state’s budget continued behind the scenes Thursday, the clock is ticking.

Lawmakers hope to pass a budget and coronavirus relief legislation before Saturday.

Before the pandemic, Gov. Pritzker proposed increasing spending for some vital services. But now, the state faces a staggering budget hole.

The governor hopes the federal governmnt will come in to help.

“Today is much different. I mean, obviously, we are in a much different situation for our state,” Pritzker said. “We have a sincere hope and belief that there will be help that comes from the federal government.”

Despite the deficit, Gov. Pritzker suggested he’s probably not going to sign off on massive cuts.

“Here our job is to take care of people that is to say people in need,” Gov. Pritzker said.

As of Thursday night, final details of the budget are still being negotiated.

“Our budgeteers have been working on it,” said Rep. Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego) said. “Our budget review staff have gone through it in-depth and haven’t gotten much sleep lately.”

Meantime, Democrats advanced a package of measures they say will make the November election run more smoothly.

“It’s important we are doing everything we can to protect our residents and make sure they have access to voting,” Rep. Kelly Burke (D-Oak Lawn) said.

Election officials would mail vote-by-mail applications to any voter who cast a ballot in the 2018 general election, the 2019 municipal election or the March 2020 primary.

It’s a temporary plan just for November. The Democratic-backed measure sailed through the House 72-43. It’s expected to be taken up by the Senate.

Also, the measure makes Election Day a state holiday extending hours and allowing schools to serve as polling places. It allows for the hiring of more election judges should older residents not want the job due to safety concerns.

Some Republicans want to pump the breaks raising concerns about security and cost. They say Illinois already has one of the most robust vote-by-mail systems in the country.

“This is literally encompassing in stature election fraud,” said Senator Dale Righter.

GOP senators took issue with the process to verify ballot signatures.

“With three people any one of which could sit there and say ‘we’re not gonna reject any ballot,'” Rep. Jim Oberweiss said. “Every ballot here is gonna count regardless, I don’t gonna carry. We’re gonna count them all end of discussion.”

Rep. Darren Bailey, who was kicked out of session Wednesday for not wearing a mask, returned Thursday with a mask.

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