Cook County Republicans’ attempt to block full and fair elections undermines democracy

Illinois should be thankful authorities have been working to ensure balloting goes as smoothly and safely as possible at a time of a pandemic.

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A voter casts her mail-in ballot in May at a drop box in West Chester, Pennsylvania, prior to the primary election.

Matt Rourke/AP file photo

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.

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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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