Special McHenry County Board meeting pushed to Friday over concern wrong version of maps was posted

County Democrats have said the maps have errors that will create more confusion among voters

McHenry County board member Joe Gottemoller shows a current map of McHenry County voter districts and precincts on Friday, April 30, 2021 in Crystal Lake. The county is considering redistricting and is awaiting updated census information.

Wednesday’s special meeting of the McHenry County Board was postponed to Friday over concern that one of the maps posted for review was the wrong version.

The County Board was set to vote on newly drawn precinct maps Wednesday night after the vote has been postponed at the December meeting over criticisms of the maps. An apparent issue uploading the correct file of one map to the public agenda this week has now caused the vote on the maps to be pushed back to a special meeting Friday.

Board members were given the correct version of the maps, McHenry County spokeswoman Alicia Schueller said, but there was some confusion as to which version was supposed to be posted on the county’s public meeting portal. County Clerk Joe Tirio asked Board Chairman Mike Buehler, R-Crystal Lake, to postpone the meeting.

“We could have voted on the matter last night, but I wanted to ensure fully transparency and offer the public as much opportunity as possible to review the new precinct maps,” Buehler said at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

Algonquin 12 Precinct Committeeperson Dee Darling sent an email Wednesday afternoon to Tirio and the County Board explaining the publicly available map of changes to precincts in Algonquin Township appeared to be the same file that was posted at the December meeting and included no changes.

She asked that even if the issue is corrected, the public be given two day to review the map so the board is in compliance with the Open Meetings Act.

“As a voter & precinct committeeperson in Algonquin Township, I feel that the entire public body should be given adequate time to review these newly revised maps prior to the Board voting on them to ensure Board members hear concerns from us and are getting any & all of our questions answered,” Darling said in the email.

In December, Democrats representing precincts around McHenry County expressed concern to the board that the proposed maps were filled with errors that would cause confusion for voters. Democratic Party of McHenry County Chair Kristina Zahorik said the latest version still is not better.

“When you look at the maps as [they] were initially contrived and now this one, the concerns we presented to the County Board are not addressed,” Zahorik said.

Precincts determine where the people who live in a particular area will go to vote. Voting locations are often a public building located within the precinct. Each McHenry County precinct has about 800 to 1,200 people.

Tirio, a Republican, said he is facing a Jan. 14 deadline to make the changes to the maps. He said more time would have been helpful to properly address the concerns raised in the December meeting.

To fix the issues with the map proposal, Zahorik said the best solution would be to leave the maps as they are and split any precinct up that has more than 1,200 people, the maximum allowed under state law. She said she thinks Tirio’s office failed to look at how voters would be impacted by the map.

The latest map proposal, which would increase the number of precincts in the county from 212 to 223, will go before the County Board for a final vote Friday evening.