Top Kane County GOP official calls election precinct redraw 'a farce'

Updated 1/7/2022 5:19 PM

A behind-the-scenes process of redrawing election precincts in Kane County sparked concerns Friday about election integrity and what will be one of the shortest primary election campaign seasons in recent history.

Recent state legislation approved in the wake of the decennial redistricting effort requires counties to redraw election precinct boundary lines by Jan. 15. The changes will affect every race on the 2022 ballot. New rules require precincts to sit within a single congressional and state legislative district whenever possible as well as a single county board district and municipal ward.


Many counties regularly split or merge precincts to avoid them becoming too large or small for Democrat and Republican Party committeemen to properly represent constituents on partisan matters. Party committeemen are the foot soldiers of local political parties.

The influence of those roles carries particular intrigue for local Republicans who are loyal to former President Donald Trump and continue to support the debunked claims of fraud in the 2020 election. The 2022 elections bring an opportunity for Trump loyalists to take control of the local party.

Which voters live in which precincts will be a factor in that GOP battle.

Kane County hasn't adjusted its 291 precincts in nearly 20 years. That's created 28 precincts that contain far more registered voters than the 1,200-voter cap target suggested by state legislation. Multiple precincts contain fewer than the 500 registered voters state law suggests is too small for a stand-alone precinct.

A self-appointed team of workers in the county clerk's office, information technology department, graphics information system staff, lawyers in the state's attorney's office and the chairman of the county board's public service committee have spent the past several weeks redrawing the precinct boundaries.

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Kane County Board Chair Corinne Pierog has also been involved. She serves as vice chair of the Kane County Democrats. Except for Kane County Clerk Jack Cunningham, who is a Republican, all the elected officials involved so far are Democrats.

The public will get a look at the redrawn precincts on Tuesday. There will be a final vote on the remap Friday, one day before the state deadline.

That's not enough review or involvement in the process for several GOP members of the county board.

"It's a farce to suggest this committee has had any role or involvement in this at all," said Ken Shepro, a county board member and chairman of the Kane County Republican Party. "No member of this committee has been asked to participate in any of these meetings or give any guidance."

Fellow Republican Tom Koppie said the process and the tight deadlines mean the county board will be "forced to accept maps generated by the bureaucracy."


"I do not believe this is what the voting public anticipated or expects," Koppie said.

Anita Lewis, a Democrat on the board who tends to side with Republicans, questioned the process.

"And I'm not going to be able to say beyond a shadow of a doubt that everything was done right," Lewis said. "I just don't have that comfort level."

Even if the county board approves the new precinct boundaries next Friday, the county staff said it may take up until the first week of February to have maps paired with voter rolls that will allow candidates to collect accurate petition signatures. Petition filing for candidates seeking the top ballot spots is March 7.

Candidates normally have 90 days to circulate petitions. Both county board members and the clerk's office staff said they expect more petition challenges to kick candidates off the ballot because of the tight window and an increased likelihood of signatures from people who find themselves in different precincts.

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