CHICAGO - With voting by mail set to begin next week, Governor JB Pritzker is scolding members of the Illinois State Board of Elections.
The governor warns they are not doing enough to prepare, and he fears some voters could end up "disenfranchised."
The eight members of the State Board of Elections declined to comment, but Governor Pritzker wants them to do much more to assure public trust in this fall's election.
“The Board of Elections directors shouldn't wake up the day after Election Day and wish that they had done more to strengthen our Democracy and ensure our most fundamental right, the right to vote,” the governor said.
Pritzker followed up with a letter to the board, whose four Republican and four Democratic members act independently of the governor. He lamented "a shortage of 15,000 judges" of election, the staffers in precinct polling places who check in voters and then, after the polls close, conduct the first count of ballots. Pritzker wrote: "...polling places that are unable to open due to a lack of election judges have the potential to disenfranchise voters."
An astounding 1.6 million Illinoisans have already requested to vote by mail. To avoid trouble at the U.S. Postal Service, Pritzker wants election officials across the state to use secure drop boxes. But only about half plan to do so.
“To make sure we conduct a safe, free and fair election, I’m calling on the board to use $4 million in "Help America Vote" fund to develop an emergency grant program,” Pritzker said.
In his letter to the state board, the governor credits members for sharing his goal of avoiding an election mess. But with voting by mail beginning next week, he warns time is running out.