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Primary not postponed, but city election results might not be final until next week

Of the 117,120 vote-by-mail applications sent out before last week’s primary, 60,812 have been returned as of Tuesday morning, according to figures from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

Voters fill out their ballots at Midwest Terrace senior apartments at 150 S. Campbell in the 27th Ward on Election Day.
Voters fill out their ballots at Midwest Terrace senior apartments at 150 S. Campbell in the 27th Ward on Election Day.
Annie Costabile/Sun-Times file

A week after the March primary, more than half of the city’s potential vote-by-mail ballots are now in, and a Chicago Election official said Wednesday they expect to be done counting in early April.

“By state law we need to wait at least two weeks to give voters a chance to reply to any questions or supply any documents, if they had a provisional ballot,” said Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Board or Election Commissioners.

Of the 117,120 vote-by-mail applications sent out before last week’s primary, 60,812 have been returned as of Tuesday morning, according to the board’s figures.

Of those, 1,339 ballots were rejected for either being postmarked too late or for having an invalid or missing signature. Some may have chosen to vote in person instead of submitting a mail ballot, Allen said.

“Our job is to make sure we count every legal ballot,” Allen said.

Staff at the city’s electoral board got back to work Tuesday after a few days off and have resumed their four main post-election tasks: vote-by-mail ballot processing, a review of provisional ballots, a precinct canvass — which means a review of all documents and tapes from the various precinct voting locations — and a 5% retabulation of ballots.

That process entails the Illinois State Board of Elections randomly selecting five ballot scanners used on Election Day or during early voting and running all ballots cast at those locations through the scanners again to verify that they were counted correctly, Allen said.

But there’s no word yet on when last week’s primary results will be certified.

“We also have to wait for any late arriving, but on-time postmarked, vote-by-mail ballots, so by law we cannot conclude anything by at least March 31 and also by law we’re allowed to wait at least 21 days after the Election Day to issue the proclamation,” Allen said.

That would be April 7. Allen said Wednesday he expects the city to be done by April 1 or April 2.

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough released unofficial results for suburban areas on Saturday. There are still some mail ballots that the county can receive so long as they arrive by March 31, James Scalzitti, a spokesman for the clerk, said in an email.

Of the 60,000 mail ballots that were sent out by the clerk’s office, around 33,000 will have been tabulated by Wednesday morning, Scalzitti said.

The county’s results are expected be certified in early April.

Clarification: A previous version of this story said city election officials weren’t certain when the results of the March primary would be certified. They later said they expect to be done with the process by early April.