Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Clerk David Orr kicked off a countywide nonpartisan voter registration drive yesterday at the Markham courthouse in conjunction with National Voter Registration Day.
The voter registration deadline is Oct. 9 for the Nov. 6, 2012 Presidential Election.
Preckwinkle, a former high school history teacher, is passionate about getting people of all ages registered to vote.
“I always told my students that I believe democracy is both the best and most fragile form of government in the world for the same reason – it requires an active, engaged citizenry,” she said. “Voting is a primary responsibility for all residents to ensure their voices are heard and their interests are represented. ”
“Presidential elections always help get another generation excited about democracy,” Orr said. “But you can’t vote unless you are registered so we’re going gangbusters to make sure every eligible voter is on the rolls.”
As of Sept. 24, there are about 79,000 fewer registered voters in suburban Cook County than by Election Day in 2008. Among 18- to 34-year olds, registrations are down by about 50,000.
“Hopefully National Voter Registration Day, and the efforts of so many deputy registrars, can help close that gap,” Orr said.
Cook County Commissioners Deborah Sims and Liz Doody-Gorman reminded voters that their vote is their voice.
Across the country, more than 700 groups in all 50 states are participating in National Voter Registration Day. The effort’s website, NationalVoterRegistrationDay.org, promotes the project’s overarching goal – to drive voter registration and civic engagement.
Locally, volunteers who were trained by Orr’s office to register voters, called deputy registrars, are stationed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the courthouses in Rolling Meadows, Skokie, Maywood, Bridgeview and Markham.
The League of Women Voters will have its members at four of the five courthouses.
“Through voting, we select the officials who make decisions that impact our lives every day,” said Cynthia Schilsky, president of the Cook County League. “Registering to vote is the necessary first step. The League is pleased to serve as deputy registrars at the courthouses and at many other locations this election season.”
Other participating groups include the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, Delta Sigma Theta, Proviso Leyden Community Action, NAACP, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and the Pacesetter Association.
In downtown Chicago, the Chicago Board of Elections will register voters at its headquarters, 69 W. Washington, and at City Hall, 121 N. Lasalle.
“There are two weeks left to get registered if you want to vote on Nov. 6,” Orr said. “If you can’t make it to the courthouses today, visit your local library, alderman’s office, town hall or driver’s license facility.”
Voters cans also register online or mail in an application.
Illinois voters can now use an online voter registration application found on the Illinois State Board of Elections website. You must have a printer or provide an email to complete your online application.
Suburban Cook County voters can also print a voter registration application from the Clerk’s website, cookcountyclerk.com, or request one by calling (312) 603-0906. Applications are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi, Korean and Polish.
After completing the application, prospective voters should return it to the Cook County Clerk’s office, 69 W. Washington St., Fifth Floor, Chicago, IL 60602. All applications must be delivered or postmarked by Oct. 9.
To register to vote, you must be: a U.S. citizen; at least 18 years old by Election Day; and a resident of your precinct at least 30 days prior to Election Day. Voters who have recently moved must re-register at their current address prior to the deadline.
Prospective voters should bring two pieces of identification to register, including one displaying a current address. Chicago residents should visit chicagoelections.com for more information.
If you want to verify your registration status and see your polling place, click here for the “Your Voter Information” tool on cookcountyclerk.com