The Peoria County Election Commission held its monthly meeting on Tuesday, September 8, with all members present. Executive Director Tom Bride explained the State guidelines for PPE for the upcoming election, what they are, what has been purchased, and which will be reimbursed. Each polling place will need separate entries and exits and someone to monitor social distancing. Online videos will be used to train election judges. These will include information on use of PPE (hand sanitizer, face shields, and alcohol wipes) in addition to normal judges' training. Masks cannot be mandated for voters, but they will be encouraged.
As of September 8, the Election office had received approximately 23,000 requests for Vote By Mail. About 5500 of those were received on line. Any requests received by October second must be mailed by October 6. Voters will be able to track their ballots on line. If another person physically returns a ballot to the Election Commission, an affidavit must be signed. That is not necessary if the ballot is mailed or put in a drop box. The election office has received 200-225 applications for judges, with a goal of 400-500. Some judges have declined to work this year.
Director Bride presented the Commission's proposed budget to the County. The only concern seemed to be from where money for the new voting system would come. The final budget may get tweaked, but so far it was deemed acceptable.
Chris Schmidt, Connie Romanus, & Irene Pritzker
The Peoria County Election Commission held their June meeting on FaceBook Live. Two League members tried to follow it with mixed results. One was kicked off after about 10 minutes, and even after getting back on, had no sound—only closed captioning. The other could follow most of the meeting, with sound, but had glitches at various times. The Board is hoping to meet in person in July, assuming the State is in Phase 4.
Director Tom Bride presented several budget amendments anticipating the County Board approving an increase of $300,000, and the Governor signing Senate Bill 1863, which includes measures to expand vote by mail and early voting for the November general election. (Both of these things happened that afternoon.) The office will need to mail over 68,000 vote-by-mail applications by August 1. They will need software for a second scanner, a process sorter that can scan return envelopes and verify signatures, a secure ballot box for returned ballots, printing and postage expenses for applications and ballots, and extra judges.
Savings will be found by reducing the number of early voting days at specific locations and some consolidation of polling places. Polling places located in senior living facilities will be moved to other locations that are already being used.
Director Bride is anticipating few problems with recruiting judges, since the new law will close schools on election day. This will allow teachers and students to be judges that day, taking the pressure off senior citizens who might not wish to spend the whole day with strangers.
The Commission's attorney reported that the court case concerning whether the Commission had to pay real estate taxes has been dismissed with prejudice, meaning that it is settled. The Commission will pay pro rated taxes to the landlord, who will in turn pay the City and County. Even with taxes included, rent for the location is still considered reasonable.
Chris Schmidt & Irene Pritzker
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