Troops at the polls and no early voting? How 6th District GOP candidates would tackle election integrity

One of the Republicans seeking Illinois' 6th Congressional District seat wants to eliminate voting by mail and early voting, while another said military troops or security guards should be posted at polling places.

Others said requiring voters to present ID is the way to ensure election integrity - a hot issue after the 2020 presidential contest. Many states, including Illinois, don't require all in-person voters to show ID.

The GOP candidates in the June 28 primary are Niki Conforti of Glen Ellyn, Rob Cruz of Oak Lawn, Burr Ridge Mayor Gary Grasso, Scott Kaspar of Orland Park, Oak Lawn resident Catherine A. O'Shea and Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau.

They discussed voter access in Daily Herald questionnaires and follow-up emails.

In addition to requiring voters to show ID, Kaspar said voting by mail and early voting - both historically more popular with Democratic voters than Republicans - should be eliminated.

"We need to restore (a) rigorous absentee voting system with limited options, under penalty of perjury," Kaspar said.

O'Shea said states should require voters to show ID. She also suggests military reserve troops or paid security guards should monitor polling places.

Pekau said he wants every eligible voter to have easy access to voting.

"We need to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat," he said. "I want every voter to know their vote is sacred."

Pekau also said IDs should be mandatory for voting.

Conforti agreed. "I support requiring photo ID to vote and three pieces of identification to register," she said.

Cruz supports requiring ID to vote, too.

"Everyone should have access to the polls, but we allow people to vote without IDs and it fuels suspicions of voter fraud," he said. "What is the problem having to show an ID to vote?"

Opponents of voter ID laws, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have said millions of Americans lack government-issued ID cards and that such requirements disproportionately impact minorities and poorer people. Additionally, critics say in-person voter fraud is rare.

Grasso said Americans must be confident elections are fair. Any change in voting procedures should focus on making sure that every voter who is eligible to vote is able, he said.

"Every vote must be counted," Grasso said.

He opposes suggestions to end early and mail voting, saying the latter could disenfranchise military personnel, people with limited mobility and others.

"Rather, we need to encourage more Americans to vote," Grasso said. "We do that by giving voters more confidence in our electoral system and access to voting."

But he supports "strenuous oversight" of voting by mail to ensure a proper chain of custody for ballots.

The newly redrawn 6th District includes much of the West and Southwest suburbs in Cook and DuPage counties.

The winner of the GOP primary will face one of three Democrats in the Nov. 8 general election. The Democratic candidates are two-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove; U.S. Rep. Marie Newman of La Grange, who now represents the 3rd District but decided to run in the 6th after boundaries were changed last year; and Chicagoan Charles M. Hughes.

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