Secretary of State’s letter to millions of Illinois voters causes confusion over mail-in voting

Chicago News

CHICAGO — A letter about voting by mail sent to millions of voters by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White left a lot of people scratching their heads.

 “Your local election authority had indicated that you have not yet applied for a ballot; however you still have time to submit an application for a vote by mail ballot,” the letter says in part.

But some Illinois residents like Bellville realtor Doug Jameson say they never received any information from their local Board of Elections about requesting a mail-in ballot in the first place.

“I’ve tried to contact my election authority or county clerk and it’s just like they completely dismissed me,” Jameson said.

Even more confusing, officials say some voters who returned their mail-in ballot applications still got the reminder letter.

Republican State Representative Blaine Wilhour says his office in downstate Effingham is being flooded with calls.

“A lot of these people, especially in our part of the state, have no desire to participate in the mail-in ballot; they intend to vote in person or vote early or vote absentee,” said Wilhour (R-Effingham).

A new Illinois law requires that local election authorities send vote-by-mail applications to anyone who voted in the 2018 general election, the 2019 municipal election or this year’s primary.

It also requires the Secretary of State’s office to send letters to people who had received but not returned their vote by mail application. Jesse White’s office used a list provided by the State Election Board. 

“Our office simply used a mailing list that they provided to us and sent letters to everyone that was on that list by September 15,” said Henry Haupt, a spokesman for White.

White’s office says no one should be confused, and voters should expect another correspondence.

“Under the law we’re required to send one more letter October 15 using the list of names provided to us at that time by the Illinois State Board of Elections,” Haupt said.

Secretary of State Jesse White’s office says they’ll try to clean up the language in their October 15 letter. Early voting is set to begin in Illinois on Thursday. 

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