Conservative legal group suing over Illinois mail-in ballots

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Conservative legal group Judicial Watch is suing the Illinois Board of Election over accepting mail-in ballots have are postmarked on or before Election Day but arrive in offices after that date.

Illinois accepts mail-in ballots up to 14 days after Election Day as long as it is postmarked for Election Day or earlier. Election Day is Nov. 8 this year.

Judicial Watch is suing on behalf of U.S. Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro), Laura Pollastrini and Susan Sweeney. In their statement, Judicial Watch only referred to Pollastrini and Sweeney as registered voters. The Chicago Tribune identified Pollastrini as a member of the Republican State Central Committee and Sweeney as a 2020 Trump elector for Illinois.

The suit claims allowing the ballots extends Election Day in violation of federal law.

“By counting untimely and illegal ballots received after Election Day and diluting Plaintiffs’ timely cast and received ballots, Defendants, acting under color of Illinois law, have deprived and are depriving Plaintiffs of rights protected under the First Amendment and 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983,” the organization claimed.

Voting rights activists said the lawsuit is unfounded.

“This lawsuit is clearly not aimed at a court but rather an attempt to make voters concerned about election integrity, despite well-settled law confirming the security of the vote-by-mail system in Illinois and beyond,” said Ami Ghandi, senior counsel with the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.

She said the lawsuit disrupts the vote-counting process and undermines voting by those who need to use mail-in ballots, such as servicemembers and their families and the disabled.

“No one should be denied the right to vote who casts and postmarks their vote by Election Day,” said Ed Yohnka, spokesperson for the ACLU of Illinois. “This lawsuit is yet another attempt to suppress lawfully-cast votes. Illinois has taken steps to fight this type of suppression and we hope the court will reject this lawsuit.”

The Illinois Board of Elections said that nearly 820,000 mail-in ballots were requested this year.

Christine Svenson of Svenson Law Offices in Palatine is working with Judicial Watch on the lawsuit.