Early and mail-in voting underway

Early voting for the 2022 general election has begun in Monroe County ahead of election day, which is Nov. 8. 

Monroe County Clerk Jonathan McLean reported that about 200 early ballots have been cast so far with 1,200 requests already received for vote-by-mail ballots. 

McLean said these voting numbers are up from prior years, although he noted early and vote-by-mail numbers during COVID-19 restrictions were even higher.

McLean said there have been no issues with early voters casting ballots in this county so far.

As for vote-by-mail, McLean said an application must be filled out and submitted to his office as soon as possible. A print signature is required on this application, as election judges will conduct a signature check. 

Those who request a vote-by-mail ballot may not hand-deliver their ballot to a polling place on election day, he said. Mailed ballots may only be returned directly to the clerk’s office.

“I understand that many people have concerns regarding voting by mail,” McLean, a Republican, issued in a statement. “I have concerns, too. However, vote-by-mail laws can only be changed by the General Assembly. On a local level, I can assure you that I am taking extra precautions to make sure vote-by-mail is fair and transparent. I have also refrained from installing ballot drop boxes due to security concerns.” 

McLean said his office has been receiving a number of calls from voters with questions about a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution. 

The ballot question, commonly known as the “Worker’s Rights Amendment,” is essentially a question of whether Illinois should be able to pass “right-to-work” legislation.

Part of the proposed amendment states, “No law shall be passed that interferes with … the execution or application of agreements between employers and labor organizations that represent employees requiring membership in an organization as a condition of employment.”

If the amendment gains  approval by three-fifths majority of votes, the Illinois General Assembly would not be allowed to pass any legislation hindering employees’ ability to organize and negotiate with employers for hours, wages and workplace safety.

McLean said any voter who does not feel comfortable voting on the proposed amendment has the option to skip that portion of the ballot.

In the Nov. 8 election, there are only two contested Monroe County races. 

Democrat Pat Kelly of Valmeyer is challenging incumbent Republican Vicki Koerber of Waterloo for her seat on the Monroe County Board of Commissioners.

Democrat Sonja Madlinger of Columbia is going up against incumbent Republican Carl Wuertz of Fults for the office of county assessor.

Democrat Homer “Chip” Markel of Carterville is looking to unseat  Republican Mike Bost of Murphysboro for his seat in the U.S. House of Representative in the Illinois 12th Congressional District.

Incumbent Democrat junior Senator Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates is opposed by Republican Kathy Salvi of Waukegan and Libertarian Bill Redpath of West Dundee.

In the gubernatorial race, incumbent Democrat JB Pritzker of Chicago is being challenged by Republican Darren Bailey of Xenia and Libertarian Scott Schluter of Marion.

Early voting continues during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in the clerk’s office at the Monroe County Courthouse in Waterloo.

Early voting will also be available at the clerk’s office the two Saturdays before election day – Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, from 9 a.m. to noon.

For more information, call the clerk’s office at 618-939-8623 or visit online at mococlerk.com.

A public test of voting equipment will take place this Friday at the clerk’s office beginning at 9 a.m.

A complete voter’s guide, including all races on the ballot, polling place locations and other pertinent information, can be found in this week’s issue of the Republic-Times.

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Scott Woodsmall

HTC web