ILLINOIS (IRN) — Illinois’ looming expansion of vote by mail for the coming General Election is likely to draw the ire of President Donald Trump, who says there’s a potential for “tremendous fraud” in such programs.
State lawmakers passed expanded mail-in voting during their pandemic special session.
State Rep. Kelly Burke, D-Evergreen Park, said the bill was needed during a pandemic.
“It’s important that we are doing everything that we can to protect our residents to ensure they have access to voting,” she said.
State Rep. Ryan Spain, R-Peoria, said he supports mail-in balloting similar to what is already in place in Illinois.
“But we’re making some big mistakes in this bill,” Spain said. “And the one that I’m most deeply concerned about is giving rise to massive ballot harvesting initiatives that really destroy the integrity of the elections that I think we’ve all here sworn to uphold and represent.”
Ballot harvesting is the practice of someone collecting mail-in ballots and turning them into election authorities. Critics say that could lead to fraud.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he likes the idea of sending every voter a vote-by-mail application that they’d have to return to get a mail-in ballot.
“It gets us what we want, which is people don’t need to go to a physical balloting location,” Pritzker said. “And you see by the way that there are other aspects of the legislation that do provide easier access to the ballot box.”
President Donald Trump last week said mail-in voting should only be available for specific reasons, such as for people who are away from their home district on election day, or if someone is sick. He has been critical of expanding the mail-in option to everyone by default.
“One person signs them with different pens and a different signature every time,” Trump said. “Obviously there’s going to be tremendous fraud. We’re not babies. There’s tremendous fraud.”
Trump said, without providing details, that he is looking at withholding federal funds from states that expand mail-in balloting.
“We want good, straight, honest voting,” Trump said.
Pritzker has said the president is trying to suppress the vote.