Illinois Needs Meaningful Election Reform to Secure Voter Desires

In American politics, questionable electoral practices have been a long-running plot point. You need a few more votes? You might want to check Cook County again.This is what makes Gov. J.B. Pritzkers signature and endorsement of Illinois' recent election bill is so unexplicable. He stated that Illinois was proud to stand for a strong and secure democracy.Fair enough, the bill has some good aspects, according to the Chicago Tribune. It requires the states' 108 electoral authorities, primarily county clerks, to conduct monthly vulnerability risk scanning. But, it remains to be seen what that means.There are also other bizarre things, such as allowing sheriffs in jail to install polling stations. These should only be used for those who are in awaiting trial but have not been convicted. Sheriffs are not election officials. Is it possible for them to distinguish between those prisoners who can vote and those who cannot?Worse, the bill's most prominent features could make elections less secure and go against best practices. It would create a new registry that allows people to vote permanently by mail.It is hard to detect election fraud and even more difficult to prove. Prosecutors are often reluctant to pursue it, even if it occurs.Absentee voting is especially vulnerable to abuse, as demonstrated by many cases involving absentee votes. This tool of choice for vote thieves is The Heritage Foundations Election Fraud Database, which includes a sample of cases from all over the country, including Illinois. Absentee voting should be restricted to persons who are too disabled or will be absent on Election Day and any Early Voting Days.An Illinois permanent absentee list is problematic due to the way the state updates its voter list to remove people who have moved away or died.The U.S. Election Assistance Commission submits a report to Congress every time there is a federal election. It details each state's performance. Absentee balloting is one of the areas covered in the report. The report on the 2012, 2014 and 2016 elections reveals that Illinois election officials sent hundreds of thousands of ballots by post.Contrary to other states, Illinois refused information to the Election Assistance Commission on the number of absentee ballots returned by the U.S. as undeliverable. The Postal Service would provide a measure of how accurate, up-to-date, or inaccurate, and out-of date, its voter registration lists are.There are two reasons why the state might not provide this data. Either the state's record-keeping system is so bad that it cannot provide it, or the election officials are embarrassed enough to give it because of the problems that it could show in maintaining the voter registration list. This is a reason to doubt the state's election system.Basic safeguards such as the requirement of a photo ID to vote, especially absentee,are required. Even some Democratic legislators are now abandoning long-held objections to voter ID. This is a natural result of the overwhelming support from voters of all races, political views, for this common-sense measure. This safeguard was recommended by a 2005 bipartisan commission, headed by Jimmy Carter and James Baker.Unfortunately, Illinois has yet to do so. This leaves Illinois vulnerable in the voting and election process.The state has yet not to adopt common-sense electoral safeguards such as banning vote trafficking and verifying citizenship. Vote traficking allows third-party foreigners to pick up absentee ballots. This puts voters at risk of being intimidated and pressured to vote for candidates, campaign staffers and party activists they like, rather than the candidate the voter chooses. This reckless and unwise policy of putting ballots into the hands of people who are interested in the outcome is dangerous. This is why many states, other than Illinois, have outlawed the practice.These sensible measures will not be passed by Illinois lawmakers until elections in the state are strong and secure. Pritzker should learn from the Florida governor. Ron DeSantis' playbook is to support immensely popular and meaningful electoral reform. Pritzkers' family seems to have spent considerable time in the state.Original publication by The Chicago Tribune