Joe Tirio Comments on Polling Location Changes, Cites State Statute

The following comment was posted by McHenry County Recorder and candidate for County Clerk, Joe Tirio under previous blog post Jack Franks Bailing Out Mary McClellan:

This story was brought to my attention and I thought it might be interesting to get the word from the person who spoke it.

Starting from the beginning. Quite some time ago, I started reading statutes, guides and websites that are relevant to the Clerk’s position. I also struck up some friendships with current and former Clerks.

Somewhere along the way, the idea that the County Board had to approve changes in polling places was stuck in my head.

McHenry County Recorder Joe Tirio and State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally.

When the polling place changes occurred, I couldn’t recall where I had come across that concept.

I asked Clerks in other counties and their responses were mixed. It seems that there isn’t a consensus on the subject. During my travels I came across this on the state board of elections (SBOE) website:

This told me I was on the right track. So, I went back to the statutes, guides etc. In the last half of last week, I called the BOE and spoke to Amber.

I directed her to the web page above and asked her where this was in statute.

She put me on hold for a bit and then came back and said she would have to check with someone and would get back to me. A few hours later I got the call from her and she provided me this:

The operative phrase from that statute is:

“The County Board in every case shall fix and establish the places for holding elections in its respective county and all elections shall be held at the places so fixed.”

While this text is nestled in a section that deals heavily in the processes for defining and redefining precincts, to my eye, there’s little room for interpretation in the statement above.

Over the next few days, I searched for other statute that might conflict with this and couldn’t find anything as plain as this.

Tuesday evening. It occurred to me that we were running out of time if this meant what it seemed, and it needed to be addressed quickly.

I drafted an email from my county email address to the county email addresses of the full County Board, Chairman Franks, Clerk McClellan, County Administrator Austin and States attorney Kenneally (see the copy from the email below).

The following day I attended the Internal Support and Facilities Committee meeting where I read a brief statement during public comment (text below).

I’d tell you that you could go to the County Meeting portal to listen to it, but, interestingly, the recording starts after public comment.

Thursday, I attended the Committee of the Whole (COW) and gave a very similar monologue to the one given the prior day.

I’d tell you that you could go and watch the video of that meeting (full board meetings are video recorded), but again, very interestingly, the video recording had a gap in it that omitted the Public Comment from Ms McClellan and I.

They now have the audio available on the portal, if you would like to hear it for yourself.

Political “hay”:
During public comment at the COW, Ms. McClellan accused me of using this as a political ploy to create political “Hay”, as I recall.

Mary McClellan

Nothing, could be farther from the truth. If I wanted to make political hay, I would have had it posted here, sent a robocall, maybe some mailers with public officials in masks.

But what I did, was address an internal email to the people who could evaluate the risk, and act, if necessary.

Read the statute, read my documentation below and draw your own conclusions about the law and my course of action.

See you at the polls.

Joe Tirio

Appearing before you today as an interested employee of the County and as a citizen.

BLOT: I believe that the County Board needs to approve the changed polling places

I’m not a lawyer, but after reading the code repeatedly, consulting with others, including the state board of elections, I can come to no other conclusion.

I considered asking the SA for an opinion, but I don’t believe I have standing to do so as Recorder, nor as citizen, nor as candidate. Seeing no other option, last night I emailed the full board, Chairman Franks, Clerk McClellan, County Administrator and States attorney Kenneally.

I would direct your attention first to the yellow/orange highlighted section on the 9th page where it reads “The County Board in every case shall fix and establish the places for holding elections in its respective county and all elections shall be held at the places so fixed”

On page 6, the code does refer to the election authority (clerk) changing polling places AFTER typical notification is given in newspapers etc as per Article 12. But this isn’t what we’re talking about here.

As I read this code several times, it became clear to me that the County Board were the only ones that could set polling places. IN fact, the term “County Board” is found 38 times to Election Authority’s nine times.

So what can be done?

I believe you can still add it to the Monday county board meeting agenda, discuss it and vote to approve it. It’s not ideal, but it would seem to satisfy the letter of the law. Obviously, I would encourage the committee chair to engage the SA, but do so quickly


Fellow members of McHenry County Government,

An issue has come to my attention that I feel compelled to share.

According to 10 ILCS 5, It would appear that the County Board would need to approve the changes in polling locations.

The good news is, there is still time to correct this.

Attached, please find:
– the salient quote from the statute
– a link to the statute involved
– screenshot and link to the web page on the State Board of Elections website where the same sentiment is expressed.

Kindest Regards,

Joseph J. Tirio
McHenry County Recorder

Address from Illinois State Board of Elections site:

Quote from the statute:
“The County Board in every case shall fix and establish the places for holding elections in its respective county and all elections shall be held at the places so fixed.”

Link to the statute:



Joe Tirio Comments on Polling Location Changes, Cites State Statute — 6 Comments

  1. Abiding by the statute, the Board should have to review and approve every single change in polling places on Monday.

  2. If the polling place changes don’t become official until the County Board sounds off on them, I don’t see how the requirement for publishing them in the newspaper before Election Day can be satisfied.

    What they published before were proposed polling place changes.

  3. Looks like she’s wrong and the county board must approve polling place changes.
    Joe you’re a true professional. You may have saved McHenry County from looking like fools again.
    Remember the election of 2016″ Sounds like she’s losing it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *