As voter registration officially draws to a close Tuesday, Cook County data shows there are about 250,000 fewer registered than there were four years ago.
There were about 2,675,000 voters registered by Monday in Cook County, according to the Chicago Board of Elections and Office of the Cook County Clerk. That’s down from 2008, when 2,933,502 were registered as of election day.
Cook County Clerk David Orr reported a record number registered voters and youth participation during the 2008 presidential elections.
Cristina Perez is with Mikva Challenge, a non-profit promoting civic leadership in Chicago’s underserved communities. Perez directs the elections program for Mikva Challenge, which partners with Chicago teachers to enroll eligible high school seniors to vote.
Perez said she has found first-time voters to be just as excited this time around, but she said the general public’s expectations have dimmed since the last election.
“Maybe things aren’t as black and white or as clear cut as we thought they were, and things are a little bit complicated,” Perez said. “Young people see that as well, and I think that’s maybe one of the reasons why the level of excitement is not showing through as much as it was in 2008.”
A spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections said they are still processing tens of thousands of voter registration forms and expect to continue receiving more through Tuesday, but he said it is not the same registration rush the board saw in 2008. A spokeswoman for the Cook County Clerk said the same.
The story has been different for at least one collar county. Will County has seen an increase in voters. 378,940 people have registered there, up from 373,847 in 2008 according to the clerk’s office. Lake County has about 3,500 fewer voters, and Kane County has about 12,000 fewer voters than in 2008.
After Tuesday, unregistered voters in Cook County can still cast a ballot through “grace-period registration and voting” that runs from October 10th through November 3rd. During the grace period, people must register in person and vote immediately after registering. Residents must bring two forms of identification, at least one of which must show the voter’s current address. Interested voters can check the Cook County clerk’s website for hours and locations.