URBANA — Before you return your vote-by-mail application to the Champaign County clerk, better check the return address on the bottom of the form.
Some voters have received applications in the mail with instructions to return them to Champaign County Clerk Aaron Ammons, but the address provided for the clerk’s office includes the wrong ZIP code.
The correct ZIP is 61802, not the one on the application, 61208.
Ammons said he and his office are aware of the ZIP code error, and he urged using the online vote-by-mail application on his website.
“It’s much more efficient,” he said.
For those who have already received a vote-by-mail application with the wrong ZIP code, he said, “it’s a simple fix.”
A significant number of vote-by-mail applications have already gone out, Ammons said.
He hopes most people who live in the community will notice the transposed numbers in the ZIP code and be aware of the correct ZIP code for that area of Urbana, he said.
Ammons also said he’s spoken with the postmaster and has been assured that even those applications addressed with the incorrect ZIP code will still reach his office, though it may take a bit longer.
Vote-by-mail ballots won’t begin to hit the mail until Sept. 24.
“This is not going to stop someone from getting our ballot,” Ammons said.
He and his office are looking into how the error was made, he said.
The clerk’s office used a couple of vendors, one that created the application and another that mailed it, Ammons said.
Local Realtor Stefanie Pratt said she received three applications to vote by mail at her home with the transposed ZIP code, one for herself and two others for her mom and stepfather, who moved out of state four years ago.
She plans to return hers, using the right ZIP code, along with the other two, saying, “hey, they don’t live here,” she said.
Pratt said she can understand mistakes are made, “but this is a very important thing, and I would expect that organization to have a proofreader to make sure no mistakes are made.”
Voting for the upcoming election is already subject nationally to mistrust and controversy, she said.
John Farney, a former Republican Champaign County treasurer and deputy county clerk who worked in the election division, posted one of the applications with the wrong ZIP code on Facebook and directed a comment to Ammons:
“No excuses this time,” he said in his post. “It’s not a misunderstanding like everything else. It’s not racist. You screwed up. Your name is on the letterhead. Take responsibility.”
Farney said several people shared the application with the incorrect ZIP code with him.
“I have seen four of them so far with the wrong address on it,” he said.