DES PLAINES, Ill. (CBS) — For months, Cheryl Dirago said she has only been able to leave her room at Asbury Court Supportive and Independent Living in Des Plaines for the essentials.
Now, she wants to know why voting isn’t included.
“It’s been seven months of not being able to go out of our rooms,” Dirago said.
That is why CBS 2’s Tara Molina talked with Dirago in a telephone interview.
Dirago said she can’t leave her room at Asbury Court for an interview, so with no way to talk virtually, so she had to talk with Molina about her concerns from outside the building she calls home.
“I’m worse than frustrated,” Dirago said.
Her concerns are about voting.
“Numerous people in the facility I’m in have not received their ballots,” Dirago said.
Dirago claims her mail-in ballot was sent out more than a week ago, but she still doesn’t have it.
She is worried that if she doesn’t get it in time, she won’t be able to vote.
“My concern is, why can’t I go out and vote outside this building?” Dirago said. “We can go to the doctor. We can go to the vet. We can do things like that. But we can’t go out and vote?”
Molina called Asbury Court to check on that. Employees confirmed they aren’t allowing residents to leave to vote in-person because of the risk of COVID-19, but said they helped all residents register for mail-in ballots, several times, and many have already received them.
What happens if they don’t?
“Nobody has an answer!” Dirago said.
The facility’s executive director, Sarah Pappe, got back to Molina with an answer Monday evening:
“We are following the process in the link provided below to ensure all residents have the opportunity to vote. The team you spoke with earlier has not been involved in this new process. This court order was entered last week in cook county to provide a process for nursing home and hospital residents to vote. We will be requesting ballots for anyone who hasn’t voted and would like to vote, which will arrive on the 29th.”
As for others waiting on ballots? The Cook County Clerk’s office released this statement:
“We have not been receiving any significant complaints from seniors at senior living centers regarding their ballots. Generally, we have had inquiries from voters who are understandably concerned that their ballots have been received after they have mailed them back or placed them in a drop box at an early voting location.
“We want to remind voters that we are experiencing record-setting increases in requests for mail ballots as well as the numbers of suburban residents who are voting early. Voter interest is extremely high in this election and we fully understand that people want to be assured that their vote has been received and will be counted.
“Once a ballot is returned and received, the Clerk’s Office follows a very specific process that includes sorting, scanning, and verifying the signature on each and every ballot. Due to volume, this process may take extra time to complete and enter into the Clerk’s system. We encourage voters to be patient and to continue to check the Clerk’s website to verify receipt of their ballot.
“As of today, we have received more than 555,000 requests for mail ballots, which is five times greater than the 2016 Presidential Election. As of today, more than 215,000 suburban voters have voted early, compared to more than 161,000 on the same day of early voting in 2016.
“Due to Covid we did not place any polling places in senior centers or nursing homes and we encouraged vote by mail as much as possible for elderly voters.
“However, we did make a special accommodation for voters in nursing homes. Our attorneys secured a court order that enabled us to deliver ballots directly to nursing homes so that residents can cast their ballots at their nursing home facility, and then mail it back to the Clerk or have it dropped at a secure drop box location.”
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