2016 election raised issues regarding McClellan's office, hiring of her husband
The 2016 election brought voting problems and nepotism issues regarding McHenry County Clerk Mary McClellan, who is now running for circuit court, to the forefront.
Not only were polling places disorganized and delayed in opening, but nepotism issues were raised with the hiring of McClellan’s husband, Edward Gill, as election administrative supervisor. Despite not having a background or experience in elections or even administration supervision, Gill was hired for the 2016 election.
In addition to the nepotism, there were widespread problems from a computer problem with voter registration to polling places opening late and closing early. The polls that opened late were supposed to stay open an extra hour and a half, thanks to a court order.
“This was the worst election I’ve seen – not by a little, by a lot,” Democratic Party Chairman Mike Bissett said in a March 2016 interview with the Chicago Tribune.
The problems were criticized on a bipartisan level, with both Democrats and Republicans saying McHenry County experienced more problems than normal, including the fact that the county was the only voting jurisdiction out of 109 statewide that required extended voting hours.
However, some of the voting places didn’t abide by the judge’s order to extend hours, turning away voters who should have gotten the opportunity to vote. Up to 20 percent of the polling places experienced some sort of problem causing voters to be turned away.
Some lawmakers, including state Rep. David McSweeney (R-Barrington Hills), believed the problems could be due to the nepotism caused by McClellan and her husband who, as election administrative supervisor, was in charge of making sure the polling places operated correctly and votes were counted accurately.
McSweeney wasn’t the only one concerned by the nepotism, according the Chicago Tribune. County Board member Nick Provenzano ran against McClellan in 2014 when Gil was working in the clerk’s office as an election administrative analyst according to county records. He told the Tribube the clerk’s office was responsible for informing voters in the 2016 election of the extended hours at the polls but only sent a news release to some media outlets, without a mention of the change in hours on either the County website or social media.
McClellan, defended her decision to hire her husband at the time, despite a County Board committee’s concern when she asked to have her husband’s position reclassified through Resolution 3941. Gil’s position as election administrative supervisor requires overtime hours which McClellan believed weren’t accurately accounted for in the county’s budget. She wanted the position to be changed from an hourly position to an exempt position, according to the McHenry County website. However, the committee voted overwhelmingly (6-1) to table the discussion on reclassification.
“I didn’t hire him because he’s my husband. I hired him because he’s a qualified person to do that job,” McClellan said in the Northwest Herald in 2015. Others in the county disagreed that Gil had the qualifications and that the hiring was not due to his relationship with McClellan.
“The public is tired of politicians using their positions of authority to hire family members,” County Board member Donna Kurtz (R-Crystal Lake, a committee member, told the Northwest Herald.