(WTVO) — Nearly 31,000 mail-in ballots were rejected in Illinois in last year’s November election, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

According to officials, 2.2 million mail-ballots were requested across the state for the November election. More than 657,000 were returned with around 626,300 counted. That’s a difference of about 30,700.  

The election marked the first time in history Illinois voters could request a mail-in ballot for any reason. The provision began during the COVID-19 pandemic and was expanded by Democrats to allow for the universal option to be a standing request for voters who apply for what used to be called an “absentee” ballot with their local elections office. 

Lawmakers amended the the mail-in ballot provision last week, sparking even more debate between state Democrats and Republicans. The amendment strikes out the requirement that an election authority must compare the signature of a mail-in ballot with the official voter file held by a county clerk.

Democrats argue what the correction was needed “because of updated technology,” according to The Center Square.

“Our thought in the language is that it would allow for both the digitized as well as the original placard for voter registration,” state Rep. Curtis Tarver, D-Chicago, said Friday from the House floor. “We’re clarifying it now to check the voter registration or the signature on the application as it relates to the ballot for vote-by-mail.”

State Rep. Amy Elik, R-Alton, said the “correction” only invites more problems.

“If that ballot comes back and all that they’re comparing it to is the application, that’s not a comparison at all,” Elik said. “So, I want to make that clear that this is causing the opportunity for more voter fraud.”