Vote by Mail and how to safely exercise your rights during COVID-19

Dear friend,

Earlier this year, many Illinoisans felt unsafe at the polls due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and some—including older adults and those with underlying conditions—were forced to stay home to protect their health.

That’s not just inconvenience—it’s voter suppression. To ensure all Illinoisans can vote safely this November, we must act now.

The General Assembly passed legislation to secure your right to vote safely in the 2020 General Election, and Gov. JB Pritzker signed it into law last week. Here are some changes you can expect to see this fall:

Election Day 2020 will be a state holiday.

To give Illinoisans a safe, central place to vote, schools will be used as polling places. Making Election Day a state holiday gives election authorities the time to clean these areas thoroughly to protect voters and students from the spread of COVID-19. It also means people will be able to vote whenever it is most convenient for them—no more long lines during the “rush hours” that occur when Election Day is a typical workday.

With schools closed, election authorities will also be able to recruit more high school students to serve as election judges. This will allow older adults—who frequently donate their time to serve as judges, but may be more vulnerable to COVID-19—to stay home and protect their health on Election Day.

If you’ve voted in the last two years, you will receive a vote by mail application automatically.

Voting by mail is a safe, secure alternative to in-person voting. Any person who has voted in the 2018, 2019 or 2020 elections—as well as anyone who registered to vote after the 2020 primary election—will receive an application for a ballot in their mailbox in early August. Fill out the application and mail it back to receive a ballot prior to the election, which you can use to vote from the comfort of your own home.

But don’t worry—if you don’t receive an application in the mail, you can apply online.

Those who aren’t automatically sent an application can request a mail ballot on the State Board of Elections’ website Applications are now open.

If you want to vote in person, the process will be safer.

To allow more Illinoisans to avoid waiting in long lines on Election Day, hours will be extended at all permanent early voting sites: The polls will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Election authorities are also permitted to establish curbside voting procedures for both early voting and on Election Day to allow citizens to cast their votes while maintaining safe social distance.

Every American has the right to vote—even during a pandemic. As the election approaches, these changes will allow every Illinoisan to make their voice heard in government without risking their health.

If I can answer any questions or help you navigate voting by mail, reach out to my office at (773) 286-1115 or by emailing

Stay safe and healthy.


Robert Martwick

State Senator | 10th District