CHICAGO - Mail-in ballots started going out to residents across Illinois on Thursday, and when Anthony Salem from Mokena opened up his mailbox Friday morning, he noticed a mail-in ballot addressed to his neighbor.
“I mean I could’ve opened this up and made it out if I wanted to and signed it, my signature might look like theirs,” said Salem.
Salem says this is not the first time he has received his neighbor’s mail, but it is the reason why he will vote in person.
“How many of these ballots are going to be going places they shouldn't be going?” asked Salem.
As of Friday, a record 1.9 million voters have applied for mail-in ballots across the state. To put that number into perspective, in the 2016 general election, 430,000 voters applied for mail-in ballots.
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“We’ve studied this for years and years and years, there is absolutely no evidence of massive fraud that occurs with mail-in voting,” said Constance Mixon, a political science professor at Elmhurst University.
Mixon says voting by mail is secure and that there are safeguards in place to ensure it's safe.
“Each ballot requires the voter signature on a certification envelope that goes in with the ballot. That is opened by an election judge, but the election judge is not even allowed to open it if that signature does not match. It's immediately listed as rejected and the person is notified,” said Mixon.
Salem did return the ballot to his neighbor.
The United States Postal Service said despite best efforts, occasionally mail is mis-delivered, and if a customer receives election mail or a ballot for the previous resident, they should write "not at this address" on the envelope and put it back in the mail.