If you've voted in a recent election, you may have received a vote-by-mail application in the mail recently.
It's part of the state's outreach efforts to those registered voters who may not want to head to the polling place this November amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Tazewell County expects to see as many as 10,000 mailed-in ballots this November.
"I feel Tazewell County voters, at least, want to go to the polls, want to vote in person," said Tazewell County Clerk John Ackerman. He said he's prepared for as many as 56,000 mail-in ballots, however.
"That's what the state has offered to pay for in a grant for supplies, and that's what we took advantage of. We will be prepared for that," Ackerman said. "If we go over that amount, we'll make do. We'll find a way to make it happen and make sure we have enough supplies in place."
Previously, Tazewell's mail-in ballot record was 2,800.
Peoria County expects as many as 60,000 people to opt for mail-in ballots, given the county's historical promotion of alternative voting options like early voting. Peoria County's previous mail-in ballot record was 11,000 in the 2018 election.
Tazewell County mailed out 56,000 vote-by-mail applications to people who voted in 2018, 2019, or 2020, per a recently-passed state law. Peoria County mailed out nearly 70,000. Those who didn't vote in those elections won't automatically receive an application, but can request one, Ackerman said.
Third-party groups also are mailing out those applications to voters, leading to some skepticism. Peoria County Election Commission Executive Director Tom Bride said they also can be safely used for mail-in voting.
"Most of those mailers are legitimate, especially if they have our return address on them," said Bride.
Local election authorities said they're receiving many questions concerning potential fraud, but Bride has an invitation for them:
"I always say, look, if you're concerned about stuff, come and work for us. And we'll definitely use you as an election judge," he said.
Bride said there are numerous fail safes built into the election process to protect its integrity, which judges get to see at work first hand.
Bride and Ackerman both said they expect many of their older election judges to sit out this time, given the COVID-19 pandemic. However, they're reaching out to high school students and teachers to fill the gaps, since Election Day is a state holiday this year.
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