Sangamon County on pace with mail-in ballot counting

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Sangamon County Clerk Don Gray didn’t want ballot dropboxes at first.

He heard stories, and didn’t want to take the risk.

“The skepticism was in the political operative ballot harvesting that I heard horror stories about in other states,” Gray said.

But now that he has seen how it works, he is confident that won’t happen here in Illinois.

Sangamon county has already received more mail-in ballots in the week since the ballots were sent out than they have in any other election cycle. 

“We have processed over 8 thousand ballots already. I can see it’s working well. It’s a good resource,” Gray said.

Teams of ballot collectors clean out the drop boxes every day. Each team is made up of one democrat and one republican. Once they take them from the box, a team of election judges scans a barcode on the outside of the envelope to make sure the signature on the ballot matches the signature on the envelope.

These barcodes are how the county makes sure nobody votes twice

Election judges are hard to come by right now.

Gray says his staff of election judges is noticeably younger this year, and that they are still trying to fill spots, But his mail-in voting staff is full of seasoned election judges.

Mitch Murdoch has been a polling place election judge for 10 years, but this is his first time seeing the mail-in ballot system up close.

“I will still be doing the polling place, but with the number of mail in ballots coming in, I knew they needed help,” Murdoch said.

As soon as the judges approve the mail in ballots the exact same way they would approve a ballot on Election Day, they are taken to the vote tabulators.

Gray was worried that his office would be overwhelmed by the number of mail in ballots being sent to his office. They sent out over thirty thousand a week ago, but a quarter have already been returned, so the election judges have been able to score them as they go.

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