coronavirus

Poll Worker at Chicago Voting Site Dies of Coronavirus, Election Officials Say

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A poll worker who was stationed at a Chicago voting site on election day died from the coronavirus, the Chicago Board of Elections said Monday.

The person was a city employee who was working the March 17 election at the Zion Hill Baptist Church in the city's 17th Ward, officials said Monday. City officials identified him as Revall Burke. The Cook County Medical Examiner's office said Burke, 60, died on April 1.

He was a "hardworking, health-conscious ex-Marine," Patch reported, and left behind six children as well as a large extended family.

The Board will be sending letters to all poll workers at that location as well as voters who cast their ballots there in person, field investigators and cartage companies who may have been around at the time the worker was there, Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen said.

Revall Burke, 60, died from the coronavirus April 1, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office.

Voters and polls workers who were at the polling place at Andrew Jackson Language Academy, located at West Harrison Street and South Loomis Street on the city's West Side, received letters informing them that a person who voted there in person on election day tested positive for the coronavirus.

"Although the Board took every precaution possible by supplying poll workers with hand sanitizers, gloves and instructions for wiping down the equipment, the fact remains that you and an individual who has now tested positive voted at the same Polling Place," the letter reads, advising individuals who feel they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms follow federal, state and local health officials' protocol.

Letters about a report of a positive case were also sent to voters and polls workers at the Montclare Senior Residences of Avalon Park, located at 1200 E. 78th St., election officials said.

Authorities said another round of letters about a confirmed coronavirus case also went out to those who voted at Dever Elementary School, located at 3436 N. Osceola Ave.

The letters also ask that anyone who tested positive after March 17 notify the Board of Elections by contacting its human resources department at (312) 269-7950.

"We’re letting voters and poll workers know as soon as we have confirmed a coronavirus case," Allen said. "We’re doing our best to learn from this and move forward."

Gov. J.B. Pritzker responded to critics who said Illinois' March primary should have been postponed after a poll worker died from coronavirus. NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern reports.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker addressed the election during his daily coronavirus briefing on Sunday - encouraging increased use of mail-in ballots for the November election.

“We relied on the local election authorities and backed them up in this effort that they would have sanitizer, PPE, that would protect the people who were working in those facilities… and if there were electronic screens that those were being wiped down,” Pritzker said.

“We want to be looking at allowing everybody in the state to vote by mail and make it easier for people to do that so we have fewer people that would want to show up on election day at a precinct.”

Pritzker and the Chicago Board of Elections traded barbs on election day in March over the Board's claim that he denied its request to postpone the election or move to all mail-in ballots.

Allen said in an election day conference call with members of the media that a call was made to the governor's office within hours of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifying the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic.

"There’s nothing magical about March 17 unless you’re St. Patrick," Allen said at the time, adding that the circumstances were "not anywhere near a normal situation."

With early voting underway in the Illinois primary next Tuesday, there's a renewed push to keep those polling places open. NBC 5's Charlie Wojciechowski has a closer look.

That same day, Pritzker delivered a fiery rebuke, claiming that the Board was trying to "shift the blame for their failings."

"Not surprisingly, they could not even explain the legal basis for their request," Pritzker said on election day. "Nor could they promise the people of Illinois that the state would be able to hold an election on their suggested date of May 12."

"There are people out there today who want to say, 'It's a crisis, bend the rules and overstep your authority,'" he continued. "It is exactly in times like these that the constitutional bounds of our democracy should be respected above all else."

Pritzker said in an earlier statement that he did not have the authority to cancel or delay the election - a change that would have required legislative approval.

"Elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and we could not risk confusion and disenfranchisement in the courts. No one is saying this is a perfect solution. We have no perfect solutions at the moment. We only have least bad solutions," his statement read.

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