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Early voting starts Thursday in Illinois, vote-by-mail ballots going out

The Center Square

Early voting for the Nov. 8 election begins Thursday in Illinois. That’s the same day local elections officials will be sending out vote-by-mail ballots voters requested.

Illinois State Board of Elections spokesman Matt Dietrich said initial early voting will happen at local county clerk’s offices starting Thursday. That’s the first phase of early voting.

“Really, it kicks into high gear two weeks before the election on Oct. 24 this year,” Dietrich told The Center Square. “That’s when you’ll see extended hours, weekend hours in a lot of jurisdictions. They’ll offer early voting in places other than the county clerk’s office.”

Illinois also has expanded vote-by-mail where voters can request a ballot to fill out at home and send in. Also Thursday, local elections officials will send out those vote-by-mail ballots.

Dietrich said that doesn’t preclude a voter from changing their mind to vote in person, rather than by mail.

“If that happens, what you would want to do is take your vote-by-mail ballot, take it to your polling place or your early voting location and surrender it to an election judge. They’ll spoil that ballot,” Dietrich said. “They’ll give you a regular in-person ballot and you can vote in person.”

Dietrich said voters cannot vote in person and then send in a vote-by-mail ballot.

“That can be a big problem, even if it’s inadvertent,” Dietrich said.

On the ballot are local, county, statehouse and congressional elections as well as statewide elections for U.S. Senate, Illinois constitutional officers like governor and a proposed constitutional amendment.

Associate Editor Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience and hosts the WMAY Morning Newsfeed out of Springfield.

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