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Gordy Hulten, Champaign County Clerk, has created rules for implementing Illinois’ grace period voting that will result in qualified, registered voters being unable to vote. Illinois law allows people to register to vote or change their address of registration up until three days before the election on November 3. The registration or change of address must be done at the County Clerk's office. In the other 101 counties in Illinois, County Clerks either allow or require grace period registrants to cast their ballot at the County Clerk's office at the time that they register or change their address. Hulten refuses to allow them to vote.
Despite the fact that these grace period registrants provide his office with proof of address, Gordy insists on mailing an absentee ballot application to the voter to prove the person’s address. It has taken 6 days for people to receive that application. Then, when they go to his office in person to return the application, he still refuses to let them vote. Instead, he sends them home to wait another 6 days for the absentee ballot to arrive in the mail. And, he requires that they mail it back, noting that as long as it is postmarked by midnight on November 5, the ballot will be counted if received within 14 days after the election. If the ballot arrives in the voter's mailbox on Election Day, will Gordy accept it in person on that day? It seems the answer is no.
An 87-year old woman who has been a registered voter in Champaign County since 1970 was turned away from the County Clerk’s office on Monday, October 29, 6 days after she changed her address of registration within the county. It was her second visit to Gordy's office in two weeks and still, he won’t let her vote. She’s waiting for the ballot to arrive in the mail. If she doesn’t get it by next Monday, for the first time in her life, she will not be voting.
Given the time it’s taking for mail to arrive, anyone who changed their address of registration or registered after October 24 is not likely to get a ballot in time to vote. I was also told that from this point forward, anyone who uses grace period registration will be sent a federal-only ballot. That means they can vote for President and U.S. Representative but not for anyone running for state or local office.
Gordy Hulten's behavior to suppress voting is worse than anything his predecessor, Mark Shelden, ever did. It appears he cannnot be stopped.
By Esther Patt