Open absentee voting concerns officials

October 22, 2010 4:56:40 AM PDT
With the election less than two weeks away, voting history is already being made in Illinois. For the first time, voters can cast their ballots absentee without having to explain why they can't be present on Election Day.

Click Here to watch the entire VOTE NAKED ILLINOIS YouTube Video

Ever since the advent of absentee voting in Illinois, you had to provide election officials with an excuse for why you needed to mail in your ballot early. You were a traveling salesman, you were studying abroad, you were going on a Caribbean cruise. Now, though, no excuse is necessary. Any registered voter can cast a ballot by mail in what one get-out-the-vote project calls "naked voting."

"I get naked for Illinois. No need for polling stations, waiting in line or even putting on pants. It's so easy, it's so private, you can vote naked." The cheek-in-tongue Internet promotion encourages Illinois voters to vote by mail in the privacy of their own home.

"This is the first time in Illinois history that Illinois voters are joining tens of millions of other voters in other states who may cast absentee ballots from their homes without stating a reason or excuse," said Langdon Neal, Chicago Election Board chairman.

The new state law also allows civic groups, political parties and even candidates to send out unsolicited applications for absentee ballots, alarming some voters who receive them and providing applications that may be incorrect.

"The campaign called Vote Naked Illinois...the problem is they have copied our form, the problem is it is sent to 69 N. Washington instead of 69 W. Washington," said Neal.

Chicago election officials say they are now processing nearly double the usual number of applications for absentee ballots.

"If it gets greater voter participation, we are very happy about that. But we want to make sure the process is not being abused, number one, and that the voters are not disenfranchised because they received information that wasn't correct," said Neal.

With Chicago's history of voting chicanery, election authorities admit they are concerned that the new no-excuse vote by mail program could be a breeding ground for fraudsters.

"We are vigilant when it comes to the absentee voting process because that's really the last vestige where shenanigans can take place," said Neal.

Vote By Mail application information

For more information about voting by mail, go to the State of Illinois website: No-excuse Absentee voting http://www.elections.il.gov/votinginformation/absenteevoting.aspx

If you are a registered voter in suburban Cook County, you can download an application for a ballot on the Cook County Clerk's website: "Absentee Voting: Any registered suburban Cook County voter may apply for an absentee ballot. It is no longer necessary to provide a reason." www.cookcountyclerk.com/elections/absenteevoting/Pages/default.aspx

If you are a registered voter in Chicago you can download an application for a ballot on the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners website: "Vote By Mail (Absentee)" www.chicagoelections.com/page.php?id=169


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