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Chairman's Memo - Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy

Fellow Republicans,

I am writing to you to talk about the elephant in the room, Vote By Mail. Each election cycle, we see that the general public is choosing to vote by mail in increasing numbers. This phenomenon is consistent across all types of voters, as the chart below illustrates. And of course, Democrats utilize Vote By Mail at a much higher rate than Republicans. Democrats have won many close elections on the strength of their Vote By Mail programs. Quite simply, Republicans will have an uphill battle in every election moving forward if we do not start utilizing Vote By Mail to our advantage -- especially now that Illinois authorizes permanent Vote By Mail lists, which will disproportionately impact the results of our municipal elections, especially our local school boards.

We are acutely aware of problems with the Vote By Mail process. However, the harsh reality is that until we have the numbers in the legislature to change it, we have to play to win under the existing rules and we must increase Republican voter turnout by greater use of Vote By Mail. In contrast to our genuine concerns about how certain aspects of voting by mail undermine fair and honest elections, there is relatively little increased risk of fraudulent abuse of your ballot when you vote by mail as opposed to voting in person. In a sense, voting by mail can actually decrease the possibility of a bad actor voting your ballot for you. Even for voters who prefer not to vote by mail, participating in the Vote By Mail process has advantages. Our partners at the Illinois Conservative Union speak about a “claim your name, secure your vote” strategy to Vote By Mail voting that was used with success in Virginia in 2021, and their viewpoint bears repeating here. First, we encourage our voters to request a Vote By Mail ballot as early in the process as possible. Once that ballot arrives, the voter has “claimed their name, and secured their vote.” With that ballot in hand, there is no possibility that anyone else can cast that ballot, or request a ballot in that voter’s name. At this point, if that voter wants to cast a ballot by mail, he or she may obviously do so. However, if that voter wants to vote in person – whether through Early Voting or on Election Day – that voter simply takes the Vote By Mail ballot with them to their polling place, and surrenders it to the election judges. We’d want our voters to be sure to watch the election judge write “SPOILED” on the Vote By Mail ballot and secure it in a “Spoiled Ballot” envelope. After this, the voter may proceed to vote in-person at the polling place. The wisdom of this approach is that it provides our voters with flexibility. Under this approach, if something comes up at the last minute, and a voter cannot vote in person, they can still vote using a Vote By Mail ballot. An executed Vote By Mail ballot can be delivered using the mail, in-person OR by a trusted friend or family member, using the affidavit on the Vote By Mail envelope. Whether it is in-person voting or voting by mail, we can protect our vote by claiming our name and ensuring that our ballot is cast. Whether you are a fan of voting by mail or not, it is the law of the land in Illinois. Until we elect enough Republicans to change it, we must use this system to the greatest extent possible so that we can do just that: elect more Republicans.

Important Dates

  • March 10 - First day to vote early or by mail if a primary was held in the election jurisdiction

  • March 20 - First day for early voting at permanent polling places other than the office of the election authority

  • April 4 - Consolidated General Election Day

  • August 17 - Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair

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