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Coles County voters to receive information on voting by mail
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Coles County voters to receive information on voting by mail


CHARLESTON — Coles County voters will soon receive information about voting by mail in the November general election.

County Clerk Julie Coe said she planned to mail notices about the option on Thursday, and they'll go to the current address on record of every registered voter in the county.

Coe said she wants to make sure voters know about the option, as the state of Illinois is requiring that vote-by-mail applications for the Nov. 3 election be sent by the end of the month to those who voted in recent elections.

"My highest concern is that all registered voters be educated and informed on the options," she said.

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The state law that went into effect last month will have vote-by-mail applications automatically sent to people who voted in the 2018 general election, the 2019 consolidated election or this year's primary election.

Supporters of the new law said it will help voters decide if concerns about the coronavirus outbreak might make them want to vote by mail instead of going to public polling places.

In-person voting at polling places will still take place on Election Day. Also, voting by mail was already an option.

In the November 2018 general election, 1,431 of the 17,385 votes cast in Coles County were mailed ballots, according to the county clerk's office. For the November 2016 general election, 1,737 of the total 22,138 votes were cast by mail.

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With the new law, Coe said she expects more voters to vote by mail this year and she plans to add staff in her office to accommodate that.

She said she also considered having a ballot drop-off box outside the courthouse but "concerns about the integrity of the ballot being compromised outweighed the advantages."

Vote-by-mail applications can be sent to the county clerk's office. The last day the clerk's office can mail a ballot to a voter is Oct. 29.

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Sept. 24 is the first day Vote By Mail ballots can be mailed to Illinois voters, when early voting begins. Early voting allows voters to cast ballots before Election Day if they choose.

Early voting will be available until the day before the election at the county clerk's office and at Mattoon City Hall. It will also be available at the Eastern Illinois University student union Oct. 28-30.

Coe also said she currently doesn't plan to change any polling place locations because of the coronavirus outbreak. Safety precautions will be in place at polling places on Election Day, she said.

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Dave Fopay is a reporter for the JG-TC who covers Coles County, the local court system, Charleston schools and more.

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