A Woodstock resident said she was unable to vote for mayor or City Council today because the McHenry County Clerk’s Office mistakenly believes her house is not in the city.
Carrie Wienke of Woodstock’s Savanna Grove neighborhood said she expected to vote in the municipal election and even attended a forum with mayoral and council candidates. But outdated records at the McHenry County Clerk’s Office incorrectly list her house as being outside Woodstock’s city limits, so the ballot she cast didn’t allow her to vote in those races.
“I was surprised when they didn’t pop up on the ballot,” Wienke said. “They said ‘Oh, this happened to someone else this morning.’”
Wienke said she voted electronically at her polling place on Dean Street and was alarmed when a message popped up on the screen asking her if she was done before she had a chance to vote for mayor or City Council.
After talking to election judges, Wienke said she reluctantly submitted her ballot and eventually contacted the county clerk’s office, which oversees elections.
“They said, ‘You never told us you were incorporated,’” Wienke said. “ … I’m responsible for telling you that a 12-year-old subdivision is incorporated?”
McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan said Wienke’s address is listed at her office as being in unincorporated McHenry County; City Hall says otherwise.
“The area is within the city of Woodstock,” said Jane Howie, the executive assistant to City Manager Roscoe Stelford. “They got all their permits from the city of Woodstock.” Howie said the neighborhood has been incorporated for at least 10 years.
McClellan said her staff has been working since she took office two years ago to update records for voters who fell through the cracks when their homes were annexed by municipalities. McClellan said sometimes voters themselves are the ones who realize the records are wrong.
“They would typically look at their tax bill or other things and say, ‘Hey, I don’t see that I’m having fair representation based on my tax bill,’” McClellan said. “… There are pockets of these areas of annexation that I see that are not complete.”
Wienke said she isn’t sure whether she’s voted in city elections in the past.
“I feel like I have, but I must not have gotten the ballot for it,” she said.
Any updates to Wienke’s voting information will come too late for this election, because she cast her ballot rather than protesting it.
“Once a ballot’s in the box, you have voted,” said Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Menzel said it’s “not completely unheard of” for a voter’s address to be misfiled at the county level.
“It is unfortunate, but there’s a lot of complicated pieces to getting each voter a ballot that has everything it’s supposed to have and nothing it isn’t supposed to have,” Menzel said.