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Local News

Will County Clerk expects 'very high volume' of mail-in voting

Clerk's office has already received 62,000 requests for mail-in ballots

Residents of Joliet cast their ballots Tuesday, Nov. 8, at Cantigny Post 367 in Joliet.
Residents of Joliet cast their ballots Tuesday, Nov. 8, at Cantigny Post 367 in Joliet.

Stay informed with Shaw Local's Election Central. Research your ballot, where the candidates stand on the issues and set yourself up with a reminder to vote.

The 2020 general election in Will County is already shaping up to involve a huge number of mail-in votes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will County Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry and members of her staff spoke to the Will County Board during a virtual meeting Thursday about how they have been preparing to work an election like no other in recent memory.

"We are expecting a very high volume of vote-by-mail for this election," Staley Ferry said.

She told the board her office has already received 62,000 applications for mail-in ballots, far exceeding the amount in previous election cycles.

The clerk's office said it sent out more than 12,000 vote-by-mail ballots for the March primary election, and has processed about 10,000 of them.

The most mail-in ballots the office had ever received was about 26,000 for the 2016 general election. Voter turnout tends to be highest during a presidential election year.

After the state legislature passed a law expanding vote-by-mail opportunities for November, the clerk's office decided to send applications for mail-in ballots to every registered voter in Will County.

There are over 450,000 registered voters in Will County. Staley Ferry said her office received a grant for about $297,000 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to help pay for the postage of mailing the applications.

Staley Ferry said her office will begin sending voters mail-in ballots on Sept. 24. The last day for voters to request a mail-in ballot is Oct. 29, although Staley Ferry's chief of staff, Charles B. Pelkie, said voters should engage with the election process early.

"Don't wait that long," Pelkie said.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Election Day, which is Nov. 3, in order to be counted.

Staley Ferry said residents will still have the options to vote in person at an early voting site or at their local polling place on Election Day.

Republican members also asked Staley Ferry several questions about the security of mail-in voting. Minority Leader Mike Fricilone, R-Homer Glen, and Judy Ogalla, R-Monee, said they have heard from constituents who have received multiple vote-by-mail ballot applications.

Pelkie said the same safety measures used for regular voting to prevent voter fraud are used for mail-in voting. That includes election judges checking names and signatures. If a ballot is rejected, the voter will receive notification and an opportunity to confirm their identity.

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