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Some Chicagoans Say Problems With Mail Meant Their Primary Ballots Weren't Counted

CHICAGO (CBS) -- There is no arguing that the world has changed dramatically with the coronavirus pandemic since the Illinois primary a mere two weeks ago.

But what has not changed is the concern some voters have about why their ballots were tossed into the reject pile. CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov on Wednesday night took a look at what went wrong.

"They took that away, which is essentially my right to vote," said Chicago voter Sandra Whetstone.

There was frustration and fallout from some Chicago voters after finding out their mail-in ballots were rejected – when they thought they had done everything right.

"My concern is that my vote didn't get counted," said Danny Samo.

Samo is referring to a letter he got this week from the Chicago Board of Elections, telling him his ballot was postmarked March 18 – one day too late to be counted. But he insists he mailed his ballot out about a week before the March 17 primary, and so did his wife.

"We mailed them at the same time, in the same box, and hers was postmarked a week after mine," Samo said.

Samo's wife's ballot doesn't count either.

"This is a Post Office issue," he said. "I mean, totally a Post Office issue."

Whetstone's issue is a bit different. She got a Board of Elections letter late on Tuesday, March 31 telling her there was a problem with her signature. The deadline to appeal was noon, on Tuesday, March 31.

"How else was I supposed to, given the letter is dated 10 days before the deadline, and then I received a letter the day of the deadline," Whetstone said.

Then she noticed something else. Her letter from the Board of Elections was dated March 21. But the postmark was March 25. So she called.

"And she said, 'Darn, I wish they hadn't sent these letters out so late,'" Whetstone said. "There are a lot of people out here that are voting by mail the same way that I did, and so, how many other people did this happen to?"

Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen said there were 117,118 mail-in ballots for the March 17 primary. Of those, 8,622 were rejected – about 7 percent – which Allen calls typical.

Allen said, "It's disappointing anytime your ballot is rejected, but we did not see any pattern or part of the city… adversely affected by mail delivery."

Allen also defended the board's handling of all ballots. But Whetstone and Samo now have serious concerns moving forward.
"And we're into everybody having to vote by mail, and November's a really critical election, then how much more of this will take place?" Whetstone said.

"This election was important, but November is big time," Samo said.

We reached out to the United States Post Office Wednesday morning to ask if there were any particular issues with ballot delevery before or after the primary. We were told they'd get back to us, but hours later, we were still waiting.

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