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Early voting begins today: Here’s what McHenry County residents need to know

Starting Thursday, residents can vote in-person at the county’s administration building in Woodstock

Meghan Honea, an election supervisor with McHenry County, tests and clears history on the voting machines Monday, May 16, 2022, at McHenry County Clerk's Office, 667 Ware Road, in Woodstock, as election judges are trained. Early voting starts for the primary election starts on Thursday, May 19, at the County Clerk's Office.

Early voting in McHenry County begins Thursday, kicking off primary races for several local, state and national contests.

Mail-in ballots also will start going out Thursday.

This year’s cycle is noteworthy given the slate of challenges that candidates and election officials have dealt with leading up to this year’s primary, County Clerk Joe Tirio said. That includes various delays in U.S. Census results, which in turn delayed the redistricting process and pushed the primary out by a few months.

What you need to know about voting

From Thursday to June 13, those wishing to vote early can do so at the McHenry County Administration Building, 667 Ware Road in Woodstock.

Starting June 13, another 10 locations will open for early voting, including the McHenry City Hall, Nunda Township Offices, Algonquin Township Office, Huntley Park District, Lake in the Hills Village Hall, McHenry Township Office, Dunham Township Office, Marengo City Hall, Cary Area Library and Algonquin Library, according to the state’s election website.

Voters can pick any of these sites to vote early at regardless of what precinct they live in.

For full hours and operations of those locations, go to bit.ly/EarlyVotingJune2022.

With redistricting, precincts boundaries also are different this year, which means voters’ polling sites for Election Day also may have changed. County and party officials in McHenry County recommend verifying your precinct before going out to vote June 28.

The last day to register to vote in person is May 31 for the primary election, although residents can take advantage of grace period registration and voting afterward.

Election judge John Ulaszek, of Cary, talks with Meghan Honea, an election supervisor with McHenry County, as he practices using a voting machine Monday, May 16, 2022, at McHenry County Clerk's Office, 667 Ware Road, in Woodstock, as election judges are trained. Early voting starts for the primary election starts on Thursday, May 19, at the County Clerk's Office.

Residents can register to vote after May 31 at the clerk’s office, at an early voting location or their local polling place on Election Day.

To register to vote, you must have two forms of identification with at least one showing your address. If you are already registered, an ID is not required to vote.

Who’s on the ballot

This year, every seat on the McHenry County Board is up for grabs after the state’s decennial redistricting process. The process this time around expanded the number of districts from six to nine, but reduced the total seat count from 24 to 18.

Primaries for the county clerk, treasurer and sheriff are also on the ballot, and voters can weigh in on multiple statewide races, including the gubernatorial primary races.

All seats in the General Assembly also are up for reelection, along with an Illinois Supreme Court and appellate court seat for the district that includes McHenry County.

Other state races, including for comptroller, treasurer, attorney general and secretary of state, have competitive primaries as well.

Seats for both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate are up for grabs. In McHenry County, competitive primaries are taking place in the 9th, 11th and 16th congressional districts, and more than a handful of Republicans are vying for the chance to face U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat, in November.

Meghan Honea, an election supervisor with McHenry County, tests and clears history on the voting machines Monday, May 16, 2022, at McHenry County Clerk's Office, 667 Ware Road, in Woodstock, as election judges are trained. Early voting starts for the primary election starts on Thursday, May 19, at the County Clerk's Office.

Despite voting kicking off, ballots could still see changes with five races where objections are still making their way through the court process.

The impacted races include the governor and lieutenant governor, the 2nd Judicial District for both the Supreme Court and appellate court, the 10th Congressional district and the McHenry County sheriff.

Out of those races, only one candidate, Keisha Smith in the governor’s race, currently is off the ballot, said Matt Dietrich, spokesman for the Illinois State Board of Elections. Smith had a judicial review of her case Wednesday, which was dismissed. She has the opportunity to appeal, Dietrich said, which could put her back on eventually.

Two referendums, a 1% municipal sales tax in Harvard and increasing the length of term for the Crystal Lake Park District Board commissioners, are also on the ballot. Voters can opt for a nonpartisan ballot that just includes referendums.

What’s made this year different

This year’s election cycle has been more difficult than previous ones due to the delays and changing timeline, Tirio said.

Kristina Zahorik, chairman of the Democratic Party of McHenry County, said the delays pushing everything back made everything harder.

Having to get signatures in January and February during the dead of winter, combined with concerns of COVID-19, created hurdles, she said.

Jim Young, chairman of the McHenry County Libertarians, said something similar. While the primary won’t be his biggest concern since there are no competitive races for the Libertarian Party, getting members on the ballot was still hard, he said.

“Your pens freeze,” he said. “Everything about it is a problem, and people really don’t want to stand there with their front door open.”

Tyler Wilke, chairman of the McHenry County Republican Party, said the compressed timeline created problems in the handful of races where candidates still are fighting to stay on the ballot.

“These are things that in a normal cycle we don’t worry about because there’s enough time to get those issues resolved,” he said.

Election judge John Ulaszek, of Cary, practices using a voting machine Monday, May 16, 2022, at McHenry County Clerk's Office, 667 Ware Road, in Woodstock, as election judges are trained. Early voting starts for the primary election on Thursday, May 19, at the County Clerk's Office.

Concerns about voter turnout because of the primary being moved to June is also a worry, Tirio and Zahorik said. Whereas normally people would vote in March or April, this year’s primary takes place when many have already made their plans for summer, they said.

Meanwhile, Wilke said he expects the Republicans’ turnout to be strong given the current politics at the state and national level.

Zahorik said she hopes this year’s contested primaries for the Democrats drive interest in the party. She called early voting a signature point of the Democrats’ efforts nationwide.

“What we’ve seen with [COVID-19], having access to the ballot in different ways was helpful,” she said.

Young, on the other hand, isn’t in favor of early voting. It halves the campaigning time and makes it hard to know if the person you’re approaching has already voted, he said.

“I’ve put pamphlets up on people’s doors and been told they’ve already voted,” he said. “By cutting the election time almost in half, you’re really helping incumbents.”

Joliet Herald-News reporter Alex Ortiz contributed to this story.

CORRECTION: This story was updated May 19 to correct the referenda information about Crystal Lake’s Park District Board commissioners’ length of term. The measure, if approved, would increase the term from four to six years.