Memorial Day weekend means a lot of different things. Most obviously, it is a time we should stop and reflect and be thankful for those brave men and women all throughout our nation’s history that made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and liberty. Which is why it is so incredibly sad that it also typically signifies the end of regular session for the Illinois General Assembly and the time when they pass their annual state budget and other large pieces of legislation.
This year was no different in many ways, however they had some extra cover to get away with funny business, COVID-19.
Using COVID-19 as cover, they approved legislation completely changing how the election this November will take place. County Clerks will be required to mail ballots to voters. Additionally, 16-year-olds can now serve as election judges.
In honest hands, vote by mail seems difficult to pull off. But in the hands of politicians in Illinois, it seems like a license to get away with all sorts of corruption. Those of us in St. Clair County should be well aware of what can be done in a normal election year.
Like when five people were convicted on June 29, 2005, by a federal jury, including Charles Powell, Chairman of the East St. Louis Democratic Party, of felony conspiracy to commit vote fraud. They were convicted of buying votes with cash, cigarettes and liquor in the November 2004 election to try to get Democrats elected. According to a report by the American Center for Voting Rights, prosecutors alleged that money for the vote-buying flowed from the Belleville-based St. Clair County Democrats to their East St. Louis counterparts in a bid to elect certain Democratic candidates, including Mark Kern as St. Clair County Board chairman.”
So pardon me for being more than a little nervous about vote by mail.
A proper amount of social distancing, cleaning off machines between voters, and early voting locations would have been enough. We’ve have no trouble going to the grocery store, voting should have been just fine. And for those uncomfortable, vote by mail was already an established option. This bill forces it.
I spoke with a friend who is a criminal law attorney and he is concerned the 16-year-old election judges could be used to commit fraud beccause they wouldn’t be charged as adults.
There are lots of reasons to be concerned about this. But it’s Illinois, what could go wrong?