By Kerri Barber
On June 14 the McHenry County Board met as scheduled with a notable item on the agenda, Resolution 6914, a proposal to redrawn precincts across the county. The proposal, provided by McHenry County Clerk, Mary McClellen, followed a study using data provided by the Federal GIS bureau to divide county precincts into groups of 500 – 700 registered voters or less.
McClellen said that the proposal was intended to begin a conversation about redistricting that had been long overdue. “I approached Chairman Franks about this need some time ago. This hadn’t been done by my predecessor in the fourteen years prior and I wanted to make sure we at least began the appropriate discussions now.”
McClellen added, “The intent was not to be divisive or political. In fact, I didn’t expect this to end up as a voting item just to be slapped down. That was a surprise to me and, as I discussed with Chairman Franks, the goal was to comply with Illinois law. ”
McClellen also expressed concern that none of the board members or county political party leaders had called her to discuss the issue prior to the board meeting on June 14.
The resolution itself was tabled and a committee will be formed to explore the proposal. McClellen herself noted that the GIS data provided will be irrelevant as Illinois’ automatic voter registration law goes into effect on July 1, 2018 for all eligible voters who apply for or renew their driver’s license or state identification cards. This means the total number of registered voters is expected to rise significantly.
During the meeting County Board Chairman Franks informed board members that Illinois State Law requires these periodic assessments and that he had been in talks with the Clerk about this issue, citing state law requirements for just this kind of review to occur in June following a November election.
Following the meeting, the resolution and detailed data was removed from the McHenry County Meeting Portal. A formal FOIA request has been issued to retrieve the original data.
Persons interested in participating as a redistricting committee member are encouraged to contact Chairman Franks, Diane Everson for the Republican Party or Kristina Zahorik for the Democratic Party.
(10 ILCS 5/11-2) (from Ch. 46, par. 11-2)
Sec. 11-2. The County Board in each county, except in counties having a population of 3,000,000 inhabitants or over, shall, at its regular meeting in June, divide its election precincts which contain more than 800 voters, into election districts so that each district shall contain, as near as may be practicable, 500 voters, and not more in any case than 800. Whenever the County Board ascertains that any election precinct contains more than 600 registered voters, it may divide such precinct, at its regular meeting in June, into election precincts so that each precinct shall contain, as nearly as may be practicable, 500 voters. Insofar as is practicable, each precinct shall be situated within a single congressional, legislative and representative district and in not more than one County Board district and one municipal ward.
In order to situate each precinct within a single district or ward, the County Board shall change the boundaries of election precincts after each decennial census as soon as is practicable following the completion of congressional and legislative redistricting.