Issues at dozens of Illinois polling sites amid COVID-19 concerns

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CHICAGO — The Illinois primary election is underway despite COVID-19 fears.

Board of Election officials predicted there would be problems this primary, given all the concern surrounding coronavirus — and they were right.

At least 50 polling sites opened late, and hundreds of poll workers backed out last minute over fears of the virus.

Chicago Board of Elections officials moved more than 200 polling sites this primary.

Problems that have lead to Twitter back and forth between Pritzker and the Chicago Board of Elections.

Board of elections spokesman Jim Allen blamed Pritzker and called it “the curse of the election day.” Allen said on March 11, when the World Health Organization labeled the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic, the board made a request to the governor to postpone the election. That request was denied, the board said.

Chicago Tribune reporter Heather Cherone tweeted Allen said his agency urged Pritzker to prohibit voting in person and go to a fully vote-by-mail election. That recommendation was rejected.

Spokesperson for Pritzker, Anne Caprara, tweeted a response that said, “This is a lie. And frankly, given what we are dealing with in this moment, I’m disgusted that Jim Allen would lie like this. We offered them the National Guard, young volunteers and assistance with keeping polling places clean.”

Pritzker himself responded a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

“Last week the Chicago Board asked me to do something that is unquestionably  not within my legal authority,” he said.

Despite all the challenges, Chicago set an early voting record with 171,709 voters casting their ballots as of Monday. That’s up 22 percent from the 2016 record.

There is also a record for mail-in ballots, with 118,000 voters planning to send ballots back — thanks to the extended deadline. Those envelopes must be postmarked by Tuesday.

Sanitizing gels and handwipes are being provided at polling places and voters are being asked to practice social distancing, leaving at least six feet of space between you and the voters around you.

Election officials are stressing for everyone to double check their polling place before heading out due to all the changes. Go to: chicagoelections.gov/info

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