DuPage County Divided Over Drawing of County Election Precinct Maps

DuPage County
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DuPage County voters could find they are grouped into fewer, larger precincts come the next election.

Why Now?

A new piece of legislation signed into law in November 2021 and discussed Tuesday at the county finance committee meeting reduces the number of DuPage County election precincts from 930 to 607. The current draft of the redrawn maps leaves fewer committeemen to serve as the voice of the voters, thereby impacting whether a party may be elected.

What’s At Issue?

Board member Amy Chavez said some precinct committee members and township officials have reached out to her, asking for changes to the proposed election precinct maps. “I think there is a lot of concern over these new lines,” Chavez said.

Board member Sam Tornatore said something has to give. “It’s essentially a political attempt to change boundaries within precincts,” Tornatore said.

The new state legislation comes on the heels of the county board agreeing on a new DuPage County redistricting map in a bipartisan effort in October 2021.

Deputy County Clerk Adam Johnson said he stands by the election precinct maps put together by county clerk’s office staff. “It’s unavoidable that there’s going to be some people who are not happy with the way the maps turn out,” Johnson said. “Certainly, we’re open to constructive criticism on how that process could have been better massaged.”

Board member Jim Zay said he would not support the precinct maps as proposed given the lack of time allotted for input. “We have a job to do,” Zay said. “This is not putting us in the best position to do our job.”

Johnson tried to address concerns about the county clerk’s office getting input on the precinct maps. “While there hasn’t been a lot of time for as many outside parties to review the maps, from the feedback I have received, I haven’t heard much in the way of actual substantive complaints of how the maps were drawn in terms of meeting the state legislature’s requirements,” Johnson said.

Tornatore said he doesn’t want to place blame on the county clerk’s office, but he believes taxpayer money may have been wasted.

“I don’t know that the election division contemplated this legislation coming from Springfield,” Tornatore said. “I know it’s been kind of on the back burner. … Perhaps we should have taken it into consideration before we ordered as many printers as we did. But I’m going to presume that we have a printer for every precinct that if we now have 300-plus fewer precincts, we either should get a rebate for the money we spent or we’re going to have a lot of printers being stored that aren’t being used.”

The county board authorized the purchase of new voting equipment valued at roughly $7.2 million in October 2021. That contract as awarded includes funding to pay for printers, among other things.

The county has been in the process of matching polling places with election precincts to determine which ones will be combined into a single location. Officials anticipate a reduction in the number of polling places, but they believe the amount of new printers purchased will remain appropriate for the layout of available voting locations.

Moving Forward

County board members acknowledge they don’t have a lot of time to spare. The election precinct maps need to be adopted no later than Friday.  A special county board meeting on this topic is scheduled for Friday at 8 a.m.

Naperville News 17’s Megann Horstead reports.

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