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Peoria elections officials say vote by mail expansion will cost $250,000

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On Friday, the General Assembly passed an expansion of the state's vote by mail system. Now 4.8 million registered voters will get an application to vote by mail for the 2020 general election.

Election officials in Peoria and McLean counties say they are ready for an increase in vote by mail but they will need more funding.

"All of those anticipated costs from more election staff to the pieces of equipment to just the ballots and envelopes themselves, we are anticipating a $250,000 bill to do this for the November election," said Elizabeth Gannon with the Peoria County Election Commission.

Why the need for more resources? Simply because of how many people will be sent applications. Both McLean and Peoria officials say they expect to send 50,000 to 60,000 applications each to their registered voters. McLean County Clerk Kathy Michael says while they do not have an exact figure on how much it will cost, her office says they will be ready.

"And the biggest workload is going to be guessing how many of those 50,000 applications will actually request the ballot," said Michael.

Another concern raised is possible fraud, a topic President Donald Trump has commented on several times. Elizabeth Gannon says fraud remains extremely rare in elections and is confident in the current system of signature matching and checking for envelope tampering.

"Even with the increase in vote by mail that we are anticipating, the process for checking in those ballots has not changed," said Gannon.

Michael says while they have encouraged vote by mail expansions in the past, she says it couldn't hurt to make these ballots more secure.

"If we can just say show me your photo ID or another ID, that's what we need to make this process a lot safer," said Michael.

The vote by mail expansion now waits to be signed into law by the governor, he is expected to do so within the next few days.

Andy Weber

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