I-TEAM: Missing ballot mystery solved, what every voter should know

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GEAUGA COUNTY (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM has now uncovered what happened to some of your ballots from the primary election that ended up lost in the mail and not counted.

And we’re investigating what this means the next time you vote.

We now know what went wrong before the primary election when Geauga County ballots got lost in the mail. The Board of Elections tells us someone made a mistake at the Chagrin Falls Post Office by putting the ballots in the wrong bin, and 26 ballots were then sent out of state.

In a statement, the U.S. Postal Service said “an unintentional missort” caused “a gap” in the “mail flow.”

We met Claudia Meteer dropping off some mail at the post office, and she said, “I voted by mail. I have no idea if my vote went in.”

She added, “There’s gonna have to be some assurance that every vote will count.”

Voters find what happened here alarming since the primary election was carried out almost entirely by mail due to the COVID-19 outbreak. And, voting by mail could play a big role in the Presidential election.

For continuing coverage about the coronavirus pandemic, including the latest on Ohio, head here.

The I-TEAM went inside the Chagrin Falls Post Office to see the Postmaster. Back when we first reported on the problem, he told us he’d been unaware of it. Now, he is not commenting. 

And the postal service is refusing to answer follow-up questions. Not even explaining what steps are being taken to prevent anything like this from happening again.

“I’m very worried about the November election coming up,” South Russell Mayor William Koons said.

The mayor says he’s now talking about this with a statewide mayors’ group. Recently, hundreds of ballots were also lost in the mail in southern Ohio.

“If you don’t have confidence in the electoral process, then I think its a sad state of our democracy,” Koons added.

An email from a postal service spokeswoman also said: “Our review of the return ballot processing identified one opportunity for improvement. Unfortunately, an unintentional missort of Geauga County ballots ultimately contributed to a gap in the mail flow, resulting in a delay. Going forward, we are instituting additional protocols to ensure the timely delivery of election mail.”

The office of Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose also sent a statement saying, in part, “While the errors by the postal service are unacceptable, Secretary LaRose will continue to push for greater assurances from them that every single vote is securely transmitted to the county boards of elections, and Ohioans should have every confidence that their vote will be counted in November — whether in-person or absentee.”

Still, the missing ballots in this case have shaken the confidence of voters. Paul Schmidt reacted to the promises of fixing the system by saying, “I’m not sold at all.”

The Secretary of State‘s office says nearly 2 million people in Ohio voted by mail as part of the recent primary.

Read more I-TEAM coverage right here.

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