Some early voters in DuPage will need to use paper ballots

DuPage County Election Commission officials were scrambling Tuesday to deliver paper ballots to early voting sites for dozens of precincts in the 41st House District after the precincts were excluded from some electronic voting machines.

Officials said the 81 precincts weren't programmed into the machines because of uncertainty about whether state representative candidate Valerie Montgomery would keep her name on the ballot.

A recent court ruling found Montgomery doesn't live in the 41st House District. So the Naperville Democrat had until Monday - the same day early voting began at 11 DuPage locations - to decide if she was staying in her race against Republican incumbent Grant Wehrli of Naperville.

To avoid a situation where they might have to modify the machines, election commission officials decided that early votes in the 41st House District, which covers all or parts of Naperville and Warrenville, had to be done on paper ballots.

As a result, the initial plan was to require as many as 55,000 registered voters to use just two early voting sites equipped with paper ballots: the Naperville Municipal Center and the election commission headquarters in Wheaton.

That prompted confusion among would-be voters unaware of the situation and complaints from at least one campaign.

Meghan Hassett, the campaign manager for Laura Ellman - the Naperville Democrat challenging Republican incumbent Michael Connelly in the 21st state Senate District - said she was contacted by voters who were turned away from the early voting location at the Olive Trees Condominiums along Bailey Road in Naperville.

While the commission sent letters to voters notifying them about the change, Hassett said the mailer was "very unclear."

On Tuesday morning, Hassett called on the DuPage County Board to intervene.

"I'm here today to urge the election commission to provide paper ballots at all of the early voting sites to accommodate those in House District 41 who are currently restricted from voting early, except for two locations," Hassett said during the public comment portion of the county board meeting.

Ellman also issued a statement accusing the election commission of "suppressing voters" in the district.

"We need fair elections for a functional democracy and accountable government, which means every registered voter in DuPage must be able to cast a ballot at any early voting location within the county," Ellman said.

By around 1:30 p.m., the election commission announced that paper ballots were going to be available at the Olive Trees Condominiums.

"Beginning Oct. 24, voters casting ballots in that 41st District House race will be able to early vote at any of the available DuPage County early voting locations," Cathy Ficker Terrill, chairwoman of the election commission board, said in a statement.

Election commission officials said every precinct in the 41st House District will be included on all electronic voting machines on Election Day.

As for Montgomery, it was discovered she isn't a resident of the 41st House District after Wehrli filed a lawsuit pointing out the residency error.

Judge Bonnie Wheaton ordered the election commission to correct a "coding error" that incorrectly placed Montgomery's Naperville home in the 41st House District.

According to Wheaton's ruling, Montgomery actually lives in the state's 49th House District, which includes parts of Naperville, Aurora, Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles and Wayne.

Montgomery ran unopposed in the April Democratic primary. She also was featured on a Time cover as part of a collage of Women's March participants the magazine called "The Avengers."

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