Ahead of statewide elections, fewer Chicago voters

October 6, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Considering that Illinois' last two elected governors are now convicts, one might think there would be a surge in voter registration to stop the corruption. But, with regular voter registration for the November 2 election now closed, there has not been a dramatic rise in people signing up to have a say in who runs state government.

"We're down about 60,000 registered voters from where we were two years ago," said Chicago Election Board Chairman Langdon Neal.

Chicago election commissioner Langdon Neal says the city voter rolls were at 1.36 million in 2006 when Rod Blagojevich won a second term as governor.

Right now, the number of Chicago city registered voters has fallen slightly, even as people flowed into election headquarters to make Tuesday's registration deadline.

"We did a major canvass in which we verify our rolls to make sure they're clean this summer," Neal said. "So, we've cleaned the rolls so that our voting rolls are very accurate in terms of eligible voters, so that results in some loss of voters."

Suburban Cook County voter registration is also down slightly since the last statewide election, even though there is a heated race for governor and for the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama.

Outside of Chicago there has been a spike in registration compared to 2006. In each of the collar counties, the numbers of registered voters is up: in DuPage, Will, Lake, Kane and McHenry counties the increase totals almost 110,000 new voters.

That has helped to drive up statewide voter registration for the November 2 election compared with four years ago.

With much of the increase coming from Republican-strong Chicago suburbs and downstate, the numbers would have to be considered favorable to the GOP.

While registration for voting at the polls on Election Day is closed, there is still a special grace period to register under way now. The caveat is that voters have to register and vote at the same time on the spot.

This has nothing to do with the upcoming election for Chicago mayor. City voters will face a registration deadline for that election 28 days before the February 22 election.

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