Report: Will County saw 310% increase in mail-in ballot requests in 2020

The Will County Clerk secured new equipment to automate its vote by mail program in future elections

Will County saw a 310% increase in requests for mail-in ballots last year after a new state law called for more options for voters during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from the county clerk’s office.

Clerk Lauren Staley Ferry published the report recapping the primary and general elections in 2020 and this past April’s municipal election.

“My objective during these elections was to ensure that public health concerns would not prevent a single voter from casting a ballot,” Staley Ferry said in a statement. “And my goal with this report, as always, is to increase transparency and provide the public with the clearest possible understanding of our election process.”

The clerk’s office delivered more than 123,000 mail-in ballots for the 2020 general election. Prior to last year, the record high for mail in ballots during a single election was a little over 30,000 ballots.

Election officials in the county expect the interest in mail-in voting to continue in future elections. So last month the Will County Board approved the purchase of new equipment to automate the processing of mail-in ballots for a little less than $2 million.

The clerk’s office projects the new equipment to save a least $500,000 per election in manual labor to assemble and process ballots. If the clerk’s office continues to fulfill 125,000 mail-in ballots per election, the equipment will have paid for itself by the end of 2024, according to a news release.

To read the report, go to thewillcountyclerk.com.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.