URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — As his office prepares for elections this spring, Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons is concerned about hate mail. People started sending messages to his office during the general election.
They were all in response to his office informing the public of mail-in voting through mail or email. Voters had no obligation to even return or respond to those letters or emails.
People returned about 20 of the letters and some responded to emails. They returned messages that included racial slurs. They also said things like, “I won’t send my votes to the office of a convicted felon” and even some threats to his family, saying “Your moms house you [expletive] crooks”.
“When you mention my parents, when you mention my wife, right? And signal in any way, shape or form, not only do you want to espouse hateful language, but maybe that you’d be intending to do some harm to me and my family. Those are the things that frustrate me most about this,” said Ammons. “We’re not done with the issues of race in this country. We’re not done with the issue of race in Champaign County, and too often I hear people talk about… that’s national news. That’s something happening on a national level. It doesn’t really affect us here. It looks like it does.”
Ammons said he wasn’t the only one seeing these messages. He said he’s more concerned for his staff. Many of them had to open these letters and emails.
“My staff has to see this stuff. Whether it’s the African American staff or just the staff period who have to open this type of thing and be subject to it. It’s one thing for you to aim this stuff at me as an elected official. I have broad shoulders. I understand that I have to deal with some of that. And I understand that I broke a glass ceiling here, being the first African American to ever hold this office,” Ammons explained, “but to subject the staff who just want to come to work and do a good job and serve the people, but to subject them to this and they didn’t ask for it. I think that’s one of the most disturbing parts of this as well.”
Despite the pushback in some of those letters, voting by mail went well in the general election. Ammons says the return rate was 92 percent.