Bill extending absentee ballot counting passes

May 17, 2005
Press Release

Cook County Clerk David Orr praised Illinois legislators for passing a bill today that would allow election authorities to count absentee ballots that arrive up to 14 days after Election Day.

"For hundreds of absentee voters who make a good-faith effort to mail in their ballots, this will allow their votes to be counted," said Orr, who initiated the legislation sponsored by state Sen. John J. Cullerton and state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz.

The bill would allow authorities to accept absentee ballots from any registered voter if the ballot is postmarked before an election and received within two weeks of Election Day. Currently, only ballots from overseas and military voters benefit from the 14-day grace period, and more than 1,540 absentee ballots in suburban Cook County were not counted after arriving late for November’s presidential election.

The bill to extend absentee counting for all voters unanimously passed the Illinois Senate today (58-0) after House members overwhelmingly passed the bill (114-1) in February. The legislation now heads to the governor’s desk.

The governor in February signed a bill to extend voter registration deadlines, and Orr urged continued support for election reforms that aim to enfranchise more voters.

"We’re making every effort to encourage more participation from voters and to make sure those votes count," Orr said.

If signed into law, the absentee voting legislation would take effect statewide before the March 2006 primary election.