McHenry County voters concerned with economy, crime and women’s rights

Election 2024
Voters enter and exit the Woodstock Public Library, 414 West Judd Street in Woodstock, on Nov. 8, 2022, to vote in the midterm election.

Ashley Rufino of Algonquin said she came out to vote Tuesday because she’s a woman and important decisions are being made affecting women that would likely create a “domino effect.”

McHenry County voters had the chance Tuesday to weigh in on races from the governor to the McHenry County Board, as well as Congress, the Illinois Supreme Court and local referendums.

Voters said they were most concerned about the potential impact of the Illinois Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today, or SAFE-T, Act on crime, abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade and decades-high inflation that have driven up the cost of gasoline, groceries and rent.

Ahead of Election Day, about 27,300 voters cast their ballots early, early turnout numbers published by the McHenry County Clerk’s Office show. As of about 5 p.m. Monday, nearly 17,600 of the 23,500 vote-by-mail ballots requested had been returned, County Clerk Joe Tirio said.

During the 2018 midterm and gubernatorial race, about 33,000 people voted early and 8,153 people voted by mail, Tirio said.

Rufino, 35, who cast her vote at Congregational Church of Algonquin, said as she waited about 30 minutes to cast her vote with about 30 other voters in line, conversations were calm, friendly and not political.

Election Day was a holiday this year – approved as a one-time state holiday by the state legislature – with public schools and many government offices closed, but Rufino, who is self-employed and has a 9-year-old son, said it didn’t affect her much.

She said she typically brings her son with her to show him the process, but this year, he was home with his dad.

Tonia Oliveira, 49, of Algonquin, voted at the same church as Rufino and said she came out to vote because she “wanted to make my voice heard.”

Without giving specifics, she said it was important to vote because “I am concerned with the issues.”

Other voters Tuesday said they came out to vote because they were concerned with the economy, crime and the SAFE-T Act, and abortion rights.

At the First Congregational Church of Huntley, Tom Reedy, 72, of Huntley said he was voting to keep Darren Bailey from becoming governor.

“He’s an extremist, affiliated with Trump,” he said.

Reedy said he was also concerned with local issues in Huntley, such as redevelopment of the former site of the Huntley Fire Protection District. He said the mixed-use development with a restaurant and apartments being built there now is “a monstrosity” and “completely out of character” with the downtown.

Gretchen Prudhomme, of Huntley, said she came out to vote Tuesday because “I always believe in exercising my right to vote” and she is “very concerned about the economy.”

“The current administration is not doing a good job,” Prudhomme said. “I vote on what hits home the most. I am ready to retire, but I am worried about my children. What will be left for them?”

She said last election she split her votes between the parties but this time she voted all one party, but declined to say which one.

Prudhomme said one thing that stood out most to her during these last few weeks of campaigning is the alarming number of spam text messages. Receiving so many, and from numbers she does not recognize, has shaken her sense of security, she said, and she questioned how these campaigns have her phone number.

Gwendolyn Kirton, who recently moved to Huntley from Michigan, said she is “very interested” in the election process. She was taken aback Tuesday as she went to vote at the First Congregational Church that she had an option of voting with the machine or with paper. She said she should have been notified of this option beforehand so she could be better prepared.

“I don’t trust voting,” she said, adding that she may volunteer to work in the next election.

She also said she did not like that she was not afforded the option of clicking for one party or the other and had to cast her votes individually.

Overall, Kirton, who moved to Illinois to be near her grandchildren, said her main concerns were the economy and the high prices of such basic necessities as food and gasoline.