Voter registration drives make signing up easier

You can do it almost anywhere these days. At the mall, while renewing driver’s license, even at church. Voter registration drives are being held all over the state. “It’s most convenient to use a voter registration drive to reach voters,

You can do it almost anywhere these days. At the mall, while renewing your driver’s license, even at church. Voter registration drives are being held all over the state.

“It’s most convenient to use a voter registration drive to reach voters,” said Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Orr explained that people who go around and register voters are volunteer deputy registrars and are affiliated with an organization.

“If someone comes into our office wanting to be a volunteer deputy registrar but is not part of an organization, then we’ll match them up with one,” he said. “As long as they are 18 years old and a registered voter, they are eligible.”

Rainbow/PUSH and the League of Women Voters are among the organizations Orr said his office would partner a volunteer with if they were not affiliated with an organization already.

“These two organizations have been very active with voter registrations over the years,” Orr said.

Voter registration drives provide convenience to voters who are often too busy to apply at designated locations like City Hall or a Chicago Public Library.

“I work long hours so I do not have time to travel downtown to register when I work in the suburbs,” said Snowey Marks, 46. “It’s good that every election there are people registering voters at the train stops like 95th Street where I catch the train to get home. Everything is about convenience to the average voter.”

For other voters, transportation is an obstacle.

“I do not have a car, and I’ll be darn if I catch a bus just to register to vote,” said Lee Edwards, 26. “The fact that I can find someone at a Currency Exchange signing folks up to vote is perfect for me.”

The deadline to register for the November 4 general election is Oct. 7. To register, individuals must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old by Election Day, have been a resident of the precinct at least 30 days prior to Election Day and able to provide two forms of identification with one showing your current address.

The Board of Elections Commissioners office, 69 W. Washington St., and City Hall, 121 N. LaSalle St. will be open until midnight Oct. 7 for those wanting to register, said Jim Allen, a spokesman for the Board of Elections Commissioners.

“We fully expect a large number of people to register at the last minute,” Allen said. “During the primary election in January, we saw a lot of last minute voters registering.”

As of Sept. 8, there were 1.34 million registered voters in Chicago, up slightly from the 1.3 million registered voters during the primary election in January, Allen added.

And between January and June, 141,171 suburban Cook County residents had registered to vote.

That’s more than the last presidential election in 2004 when only 123,635 registered during this same period, said Courtney Greve, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Clerk’s Office.

The Cook County Clerk’s office handles voters in suburban Cook County while the Board of Elections Commissioners deals with Chicago voters.

“People have a tendency to wait until after the presidential conventions before registering to vote,” Greve said.

“This way, they get a chance to hear from the candidates and where they stand on issues affecting them.”

When registering to vote, there are no questions about ethnicity so there were no race statistics on voters available from Orr or Allen.

“Sometimes you can identify a voter’s race based on what ward or precinct they reside in,” Allen said.

You can also register to vote by downloading an application online and mailing it in.

Applications can be found at www.chicagoelections.com and www.cookctyclerk.com.

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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