Cook County GOP’s at­tempt to block full, fair elec­tions un­der­mines democ­racy

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION -

At a time when elec­tion au­thor­i­ties are do­ing all they can to en­sure a smooth elec­tion dur­ing a pan­demic, Cook County Repub­li­cans are look­ing to in­ject a lit­tle chaos.

That’s the only ex­pla­na­tion we can see for a law­suit filed Mon­day on be­half of Cook County Repub­li­cans by the Lib­erty Jus­tice Cen­ter, which the con­ser­va­tive Illi­nois Pol­icy In­sti­tute has called its lit­i­ga­tion arm.

The law­suit pre­pos­ter­ously calls vot­ing by mail a “par­ti­san scheme.” It takes ob­jec­tion to a state plan to send mail-in ap­pli­ca­tions to Illi­nois res­i­dents who have voted since 2018; make Nov. 3 a gov­ern­ment and school hol­i­day; and let elec­tion au­thor­i­ties set up se­cure col­lec­tion boxes to let vot­ers drop off their bal­lots.

The law­suit just feeds into base­less crit­i­cisms of mail-in vot­ing.

Illi­nois elec­tion work­ers say they al­ready are get­ting calls from peo­ple — un­doubt­edly egged on by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump — who think some­one is try­ing to steal their vote. A law­suit like this feeds the para­noia.

The sev­eral pro­vi­sions in a vot­ing law that Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed in June are de­signed to mak­ing vot­ing safer and eas­ier dur­ing the time of COVID-19.

Mail­ing out ap­pli­ca­tions en­cour­ages ear­lier vot­ing, which will ease the count­ing crunch around Elec­tion Day.

Declar­ing Nov. 3 a state hol­i­day frees up big­ger rooms, such as school gyms, to be used as polling places, for ex­am­ple, so that in-per­son vot­ers are not crammed into hall­ways be­cause school is in ses­sion. Declar­ing the state hol­i­day also in­creases the pool of po­ten­tial elec­tion judges be­cause teach­ers and oth­ers won’t be work­ing.

And the drop-off boxes — se­cured and guarded — give last-minute vot­ers con­fi­dence their votes will ar­rive on time.

Illi­nois, which al­lows the count­ing of mail-in votes ahead of Elec­tion Day, is in bet­ter shape than, say, Michi­gan and Penn­syl­va­nia, which have rules pro­hibit­ing such a count un­til the morn­ing of Elec­tion Day. We should be happy about that. Illi­nois’ big­gest mail-in worry is that peo­ple will re­turn their voter ap­pli­ca­tions just days be­fore Elec­tion Day, and if the post of­fice is op­er­at­ing slowly, they might not get their bal­lots in time.

The law­suit by Cook County Repub­li­cans is de­signed to thwart a full, open and smooth-run­ning elec­tion. Be­cause the more in­clu­sive an elec­tion, the more the fad­ing GOP has to lose.

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