Board: Confusion over McHenry County polling places

Did you get your voter registration card in the mail a couple of weeks ago? Did you look at it closely? Chances are, your polling place has changed.

Why? The simple answer is: We believe that McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio didn’t take the adequate time to review the many changes his office has made in the past six months. He also didn’t use the law-mandated process when notifying voters of their new polling place.

To give some background, changes made by the McHenry County Board and resulting from the 2020 census required Mr. Tirio to review the county’s precincts so the number of voters in each precinct is evenly distributed, staying under 1,200.

If you are not familiar with the term “precinct,” these are small sections of the county that group voters together for the purpose of political representation at the various levels of government. Mr. Tirio could have changed only the precincts that had too many voters, but he decided to reorganize the boundaries of all the precincts, affecting almost everyone in the county.

These precinct boundaries determine where you vote. This process was done quickly and without adequate review by the clerk, causing the County Board to disagree with his methods, thereby sending the proposed map back for additional changes.

Process counts, especially when working with something as important as elections. The County Board is required by law to approve all polling place changes. However, Mr. Tirio mailed the voter registration cards to the county’s residents before he submitted the resolution for the County Board’s April agenda asking for a vote on these changes.

Because the cards were sent prematurely, one polling place has already changed, so new cards must be mailed again to those who are affected. In addition, your polling place may change again for the Nov. 8, 2022, election. Are you confused yet?

Voting is one of the most basic rights in our democracy. Unnecessary changes that confuse voters can thwart this right.

We believe Mr. Tirio did not take the time needed to perform his job accurately. We think his first priority should be to ensure accurate, safe and transparent elections.

Processes are put in place for a reason, and we would hope Mr. Tirio adheres to these processes in the future.

This op-ed column was submitted by McHenry County Board members John Collins, District 2; Tanya Jindrich, District 3; Theresa Meshes, District 1, Michael Vijuk, District 1, Kelli Wegener, District 3; and Paula Yensen, District 5.