Last day to register to vote for 2012 election

October 9, 2012 7:18:40 PM PDT
With four weeks until the presidential election, if you're not signed up to vote, Tuesday is an important day.

Tuesday is the last day to register to vote.

The first option, go into your local election board office and fill out a form or go to an election board website. The Chicago election board says that you can fill out a form online, and then print it and bring it in or mail it if it has an October 9 postmark.

Late Tuesday evening there was still once place open where Chicago voters could register: downtown at 69 W. Washington. Registrars will be on duty until midnight.

Election officials say thousands of forms are arriving daily but registration is down compared to the surge for registration in 2008.

There is also a grace period through November 3, but you must come in person and cast a ballot during your registration visit if you do decide to take part in that grace period.

"It is a lot less convenient for voters. The voter has to come in in person and be registered to vote and vote in the same visit," said Jim Allen, Chicago Board of Election commissioner.

If you're not sure whether you're registered you can check online http://www.chicagoelections.com/

Cook County voters can find information at www.cookcountyclerk.com/elections/pages/default.aspxon. Statewide voter information is available at the Illinois State Board of Elections website: www.elections.il.gov.

Sophia Howard is 29, but she's never voted. She says her boyfriend convinced her to meet Tuesday's deadline. Now, she's ready for Election Day.

"He pushed me to do this. I guess it was him. He helped me," she said.

A few months ago, Charlene Neely traded the sunshine of Florida for 'sweet home' Chicago, where she's from -- and now, she is back on our voter rolls.

"It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be when I seen all the people down here. The line went swiftly," said Neely.

First-time Chicago voter Nicki Yowell wasn't about to miss the deadline after working as a volunteer signing up voters in Ohio.

"I should have done it earlier, and I was kind of worried about what it was going to be like today, but it seems to be going very smoothly," said Yowell.

"It is important to me now because things are getting bad, hard. I need to have someone to be on my side as well as I'm on theirs," said Betty Orr, who registered to vote Tuesday.

Election officials say they're not seeing the tidal wave if new registered voters like they did in 2008. Registrations in the city of Chicago are down about 14,000 compared to four years ago. In suburban Cook County there is a decrease of about 60,000.

"This is more of a normal, last-minute rush we've seen. We've processed about 65,000 forms in the last four weeks. That's still a significant number," said James Allen.

The county has five courthouse locations open until 8 p.m. You can also go to libraries and village halls. You will need two forms of identification.

"Utility bill, credit card bill, passport, driver's license, state ID -- all of those will work," said Courtney Greve, Cook County Clerk's Office. "Most people like to procrastinate. We know that. So there's always going to be at least a little bit of activity at the end."

Eligible voters in DuPage County may register at the county's election commission headquarters until 9 p.m.

Numbers are up this year in some suburban counties; Will and Kane counties have both registered 5,000 more people than in 2008, and in DuPage County, there's an increase of 10,000.

Though President Obama is expected to win his home state handily, there are local races that could hinge on turnout.

"Years ago, women weren't able to vote, African-Americans weren't, and so just being able to take that right and just hold strong to it," said registered voter Cheron Massonburg.

"Even though we kind of know maybe how this state is going to go, it's still important to vote. I mean, you can't really complain about anything unless you vote, right?" said registered voter Tim Coghlan.

A voter must be at least 18 years old on Nov. 6, a citizen of the United States and a resident of the election precinct for at least 30 days before the election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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