WBEZ | voter registration http://www.wbez.org/tags/voter-registration Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Ex-felon informs formerly incarcerated of right to vote http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-felon-informs-formerly-incarcerated-right-vote-110994 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ex-Felon2.png" style="height: 210px; width: 280px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="FORCE members and ex-offenders Marlon Chamberlain and Teleza Rodgers meet at a McDonald’s on the city’s west side. They work to notify ex-felons of the right to vote. (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" />In a back corner at a Chicago McDonald&rsquo;s, Marlon Chamberlain sits and goes through papers under a movie poster. It&rsquo;s from the film &ldquo;The Hurricane&rdquo; the true story of Rubin &ldquo;Hurricane&rdquo; Carter, the famed boxer turned prisoner right&rsquo;s activist.</p><p>There, Chamberlain meets those recently incarcerated who want a new start. Chamberlain is with FORCE, or Fighting to Overcome Records and Create Equality. Chamberlin&rsquo;s job is to talk to ex-prisoners about everything from how to get a job to how to become a community leader. Part of his work includes talking about his past. Specifically the events leading up to September 2002.</p><p>&ldquo;I have a federal offense. I was arrested with conspiracy with intent to distribute and sentenced to 240 months,&rdquo; says Chamberlain. &ldquo;With the Fair Sentencing Act, I ended up serving 10 and a half years.&rdquo;</p><p>He was in federal prison when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. Chamberlain remembered watching the event and cheering along while the other inmates. But even then, the political process that moved Obama to the presidency was something Chamberlain didn&rsquo;t care much about.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t believe voting mattered. I didn&rsquo;t see how things could be different or how the mayor or certain state representative could change things in my community. That connection wasn&rsquo;t there.&rdquo;</p><p>After his release, a FORCE member talked to Chamberlain at a halfway house. That&rsquo;s when he started to understand that local lawmakers and not the president decide whether money gets allocated to ex-offender programs and how sentencing guidelines are outlined.</p><p>Chamberlain also learned that ex-felons could vote. In several states, if you&rsquo;re convicted of a felony, you lose the right to vote. Permanently. But in Illinois, an ex-offender can vote upon release. Chamberlain didn&rsquo;t know that. He says lots of people with records don&rsquo;t know that either. Which is why now he&rsquo;s working overtime to get the word out before election day.</p><p>Tucked away between a dead end road and railroad tracks on the city&rsquo;s southwest side, Chamberlain meets with a group of men from the Chicagoland Prison Outreach. They&rsquo;re in a work study program and Chamberlain visits with them on Thursdays. It&rsquo;s part classroom, part bible study and part welding work study. Chamberlain starts the discussion by asking &lsquo;When was the last time anyone voted?&rsquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ex-Felon1.png" title="Marlon Chamberlain talks to a group from the Chicagoland Prison Outreach about the importance of voting (WBEZ/Yolanda Perdomo)" /></p><p>One person pipes up and says he voted while in jail. He too was told he couldn&rsquo;t vote, but while in the Cook County Jail, inmates awaiting trial can vote. They&rsquo;re given applications for absentee ballots. This year, the Board of Elections processed tens of thousands of new applications. Many inmate applications are rejected, mainly because addresses can&rsquo;t be verified. Out of the more than 9,500 inmates requesting ballots, around 1,300 were deemed eligible.</p><p>A person who goes by the name of Kris says even though he can vote, he&rsquo;s not interested.</p><p>&ldquo;I never cared who was in office,&rdquo; says Kris, &ldquo;I wouldn&rsquo;t even know who to vote for.&rdquo;</p><p>The class tells him he needs to do some homework to know the candidates&rsquo; platforms. Chamberlain echoes the notion of doing a little homework and cautions the class about political stereotypes. Like that all African Americans vote the Democratic ticket.</p><p>&ldquo;Because you got Democrats who won&rsquo;t do nothing. I don&rsquo;t believe in befriending politicians. You know, no permanent friends, no permanent enemies,&rdquo; says Chamberlain. He points to the very room they sit in as a result of some kind<br />of political action.</p><p>&ldquo;So what would happen if people don&rsquo;t vote for the elected official who signed off on this? Then this program goes away,&rdquo; Chamberlain notes. Kris does not care.</p><p>&ldquo;All I see is a lot of squad cars coming around. Our neighborhood, how it was in the past, it was better than how it is now,&rdquo; says Kris. &ldquo; At least we had stuff we could do. We didn&rsquo;t have to stand on the block to have fun. We actually had places.&rdquo; Chamberlain asks Kris if he&rsquo;s ever spoken to his alderman about the problems he sees. Kris shrugs, admitting he&rsquo;s never bothered to make contact. &ldquo;The city is so fou-fou right now. The city ain&rsquo;t right.&rdquo;</p><p>While most people heard a person complaining about problems, Chamberlain heard someone much like himself. A person aware of problems, who knows things could be better. Back at the McDonalds, Chamberlain meets up with FORCE worker Teleza Rodgers. She too, is an ex-felon and covers the city&rsquo;s North Lawndale neighborhood. They talk about how hard it is to get ex-felons motivated to vote. Especially since many of them live the misconception that their voting rights were taken away from them when they went to prison.</p><p>&ldquo;People who don&rsquo;t know us are making decisions about our lives or livelihoods and our neighborhoods. They don&rsquo;t live where we live at,&rdquo; says Rodgers. &ldquo;They (ex-felons)<br />tend to have an ear to that. I say we can&rsquo;t expect to have anyone do anything for us if we&rsquo;re not doing it.&rdquo;</p><p>Rodgers says there&rsquo;s no way around the impact of voter representation. And that several questions on November&rsquo;s ballot can directly impact ex-felons and others in Chicago. Like whether the state should increase funding for mental-health services, whether a school-funding formula for disadvantaged children should be reset, and whether to increase the minimum wage.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 10:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-felon-informs-formerly-incarcerated-right-vote-110994 About 250,000 fewer registered voters in Cook County than four years ago http://www.wbez.org/news/about-250000-fewer-registered-voters-cook-county-four-years-ago-102982 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ele_1.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>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.</p><p>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&rsquo;s down from 2008, when 2,933,502 were registered as of election day.</p><p>Cook County Clerk David Orr reported a record number registered voters and youth participation during the 2008 presidential elections.</p><p>Cristina Perez is with <a href="http://www.mikvachallenge.org/">Mikva Challenge</a>, a non-profit promoting civic leadership in Chicago&rsquo;s underserved communities. Perez directs the elections program for Mikva Challenge, which partners with Chicago teachers to enroll eligible high school seniors to vote.<br /><br />Perez said she has found first-time voters to be just as excited this time around, but she said the general public&rsquo;s expectations have dimmed since the last election.<br /><br />&ldquo;Maybe things aren&rsquo;t as black and white or as clear cut as we thought they were, and things are a little bit complicated,&rdquo; Perez said. &ldquo;Young people see that as well, and I think that&rsquo;s maybe one of the reasons why the level of excitement is not showing through as much as it was in 2008.&rdquo;<br /><br />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.<br /><br />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&rsquo;s office. Lake County has about 3,500 fewer voters, and Kane County has about 12,000 fewer voters than in 2008.<br /><br />After Tuesday, unregistered voters in Cook County can still cast a ballot through &ldquo;grace-period registration and voting&rdquo; that runs from October 10th through November 3rd. During the <a href="http://www.chicagoelections.com/page.php?id=14">grace</a> <a href="http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/elections/registertovote/Pages/WhereandHowtoRegister.aspx#grace">period</a>, 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&rsquo;s current address. Interested voters can check the Cook County clerk&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/elections/registertovote/Pages/WhereandHowtoRegister.aspx#grace">website </a>for hours and locations.</p></p> Mon, 08 Oct 2012 15:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/about-250000-fewer-registered-voters-cook-county-four-years-ago-102982 Early voting in Illinois begins http://www.wbez.org/story/early-voting-illinois-begins-96756 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2012-February/2012-02-27/AP081030037253.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span id="_oneup">Monday marks the start of early voting for Illinois</span>' primary election, and it's available until March 15.</p><p><span id="_oneup">Voters do not need a reason to vote early in the Democratic and Republican primaries. The primary election in Illinois</span> is March 20.</p><p><span id="_oneup">The voting includes nominating contests for the Illinois</span> House and Senate, county offices, congressional races and several referendum questions.</p><p><span id="_oneup">Voting officials expect the close Republican presidential primary and new candidates vying for redrawn federal, state and county seats to drive early voter participation.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">Registered voters must show a current driver's license or a valid photo ID to participate.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">Early voters cannot change their votes after final submission.</span></p><p><span id="_oneup">Early voting locations are available statewide. In Chicago 51 locations will offer early voting.</span></p></p> Mon, 27 Feb 2012 15:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/early-voting-illinois-begins-96756