Processing Vote By Mail Ballots
(10 ILCS 5/19-8)
(from Ch. 46, par. 19-8)
Time and place of counting ballots.
(g) The procedures set forth in Articles 17 and 18 of this Code shall apply to all ballots counted under this Section. In addition, within 2 days after a vote by mail ballot is received, but in all cases before the close of the period for counting provisional ballots, the election judge or official shall compare the voter's signature on the certification envelope of that vote by mail ballot with the signature of the voter on file in the office of the election authority. If the election judge or official determines that the 2 signatures match, and that the vote by mail voter is otherwise qualified to cast a vote by mail ballot, the election authority shall cast and count the ballot on election day or the day the ballot is determined to be valid, whichever is later, adding the results to the precinct in which the voter is registered. If the election judge or official determines that the signatures do not match, or that the vote by mail voter is not qualified to cast a vote by mail ballot, then without opening the certification envelope, the judge or official shall mark across the face of the certification envelope the word "Rejected" and shall not cast or count the ballot.
In addition to the voter's signatures not matching, a vote by mail ballot may be rejected by the election judge or official:
(1) if the ballot envelope is open or has been opened and resealed;
(2) if the voter has already cast an early or grace period ballot;
(3) if the voter voted in person on election day or the voter is not a duly registered voter in the precinct; or
(4) on any other basis set forth in this Code.
If the election judge or official determines that any of these reasons apply, the judge or official shall mark across the face of the certification envelope the word "Rejected" and shall not cast or count the ballot.
(g-5) If a vote by mail ballot is rejected by the election judge or official for any reason, the election authority shall, within 2 days after the rejection but in all cases before the close of the period for counting provisional ballots, notify the vote by mail voter that his or her ballot was rejected. The notice shall inform the voter of the reason or reasons the ballot was rejected and shall state that the voter may appear before the election authority, on or before the 14th day after the election, to show cause as to why the ballot should not be rejected. The voter may present evidence to the election authority supporting his or her contention that the ballot should be counted. The election authority shall appoint a panel of 3 election judges to review the contested ballot, application, and certification envelope, as well as any evidence submitted by the vote by mail voter. No more than 2 election judges on the reviewing panel shall be of the same political party. The reviewing panel of election judges shall make a final determination as to the validity of the contested vote by mail ballot. The judges' determination shall not be reviewable either administratively or judicially.
A vote by mail ballot subject to this subsection that is determined to be valid shall be counted before the close of the period for counting provisional ballots.
(g-10) All vote by mail ballots determined to be valid shall be added to the vote totals for the precincts for which they were cast in the order in which the ballots were opened.
(h) Each political party, candidate, and qualified civic organization shall be entitled to have present one pollwatcher for each panel of election judges therein assigned.
(Source: P.A. 98-1171, eff. 6-1-15; 99-522, eff. 6-30-16.)