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Northeast Ohio voters report absentee ballot issues

Posted at 9:50 PM, Oct 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 23:07:55-04

CLEVELAND — A growing number of Northeast Ohio voters are reporting absentee ballot issues in various parts of Cuyahoga County as the Nov. 3 presidential election draws closer.

Dr. Tom Fowler of Cleveland Heights said he, his sister, and others are still waiting for absentee ballots in the mail, even though the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Track My Ballot website indicated ballots had been sent out on Oct. 12.

“I sent in my mail-in application for absentee ballot in mid-September," Fowler said.

“I told them the election is in two weeks, if you could get me my ballot that would be great, do you have any updates?"

"The track my ballot website said my ballot will be in the mail Oct. 30. The ballot probably won’t get to my mailbox until the first or second of November.”

“In the next day or two I’m just going to try and vote in person and if you do that they will void your absentee ballot application.”

“I just feel bad for people that don’t have the wherewithal or privilege to be able to make multiple phone calls.”

It was more absentee ballot uncertainty for Patti Substelny, who also lives in Cleveland Heights.

Substelny suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and has been unable to walk for ten years, so she relies on voting via absentee ballot.

She says her husband delivered her ballot to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections dropbox on Oct. 9, but said her ballot turned up missing and repeated phone calls through Oct. 26 produced no results.

“A lot of people have the ability to vote, and don’t take that for granted,” Substelny said

“Being disabled is disenfranchising enough, to begin with, but to not be able to have my voice heard in the election was frightening."

“Then I gave it a week and I followed-up again and then created a problem ticket for me, and then I didn’t hear anything when they promised to call back.”

“How many other people were like me in that my ballot was in a pile or a drawer or a box somewhere.”

The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections responded quickly to our story and after a few hours of searching, was able to track down Substelny's ballot.

Meanwhile, the board said Fowler could send in yet another application for an absentee ballot and that he would likely meet the Nov. 2 postmarked deadline to have his voted counted.

Fowler said he's too worried the mail service will not be able to turnaround his vote on time, so he now plans to vote in-person on Oct. 30.