Pritzker Signs Host of Bills Expanding Voting Rights, Cocktails to Go and On Trains, CTU Collective Bargaining Rights

By Benjamin Cox on April 3, 2021 at 10:04am

Pritzker signing a bill in 2019 in Chicago. (Photo Courtesy of The Center Square, Amr Alfiky)

Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill yesterday permanently expanding measures implemented during last November’s General election. Pritzker signed House Bill 1871 into law yesterday that will make ballot drop boxes permanent and expand curbside voting in the state.

Under this legislation, election officials can install ballot drop boxes where Illinois voters can submit mail-in ballots without proper postage. Voters can turn in vote-by-mail ballots at any collection site through the close of polls on Election Day.

The drop boxes will be secured by locks and can only be opened by election authority personnel. The Illinois State Board of Elections has also been given leeway to also implement further security measures.

Election officials are required to collect and process all ballots at the close of each business day.

In addition, the law lets local election authorities establish curbside voting for Illinoisans to cast their ballot during early voting or on Election Day. Prior to this law, it was only available to those with a temporary or permanent disability who may have issues entering a polling place.

It also allows the Illinois State Board of Elections to distribute any funds left over from the Help America Vote Act to help local election authorities maintain ballot drop boxes.

The law takes effect immediately.

Other bills signed yesterday allow for the Chicago Teachers Union the ability to bargain with the City of Chicago over a wide range of issues including class sizes, teacher layoffs, and the duration of the school year. It rolls back a law that severely limited the CTU’s ability to bargain with the city signed into law in 1995. The bill was heavily opposed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot who believe it will create the path for future work stoppages for the city’s public school system.

Pritzker also signed House Bill 3878 now legally allowing railroads to sell alcoholic drinks on trains. It repeals the Railroad Intoxicating Liquor Act that was passed during prohibition in the early part of the 20th Century. Trains have long served alcoholic beverages in defiance of the law after the end of Prohibition.

In another alcohol bill, Pritzker signed into law to permanently allow bars and restaurants to sell cocktails to go. Both of the alcohol bills will be effective on January 1st.