Crusader Staff Report
A record 1.5 million suburban Cook County residents are registered to vote in the upcoming November 6 election. The number is 120,000 more voters than the roughly 1.4 million on the rolls in 2016, according to the Cook County Clerk’s office, which held a press conference in the Loop on Tuesday, September 26.
Cook County Clerk David Orr said the record totals are a rebuke to President Donald Trump and his policies.
As part of National Voter Registration Day, Latino and Asian community organizers stood with Orr and talked about signing up millennials and eligible immigrant voters ahead of the mid-term elections, where Democrats have a chance to regain control of the U.S. House and possibly the Senate. All 435 House seats are up for election in November. In Illinois, Democratic candidate J.B Pritzker and Republican Bruce Rauner are on the ballot in the governor’s race. For Illinois Attorney General it is Democratic candidate Kwame Raoul and Republican Erika Harold.
Former President Barack Obama made headlines this summer when he endorsed 81 Democratic candidates running for offices across the country. Obama created National Voter Registration Day in 2016. Many Democrats are looking forward to using the mid-terms to send a message to Trump, and his chances in the presidential election in 2020.
Interest in voting is so high that organizers handed Orr a stack of more than 1,000 new voter registration applications collected in a week. Members of Chicago’s “Hamilton” production on Tuesday joined the effort by signing up voters just outside their theater in the Loop.
One new registered voter, Sirilo Morado, became a U.S. citizen in May.
“And I will be voting for mayor next year and for president the year after that,” Morado said in Spanish. “And I’m voting because I care about issues that affect me and my family like health care and immigration.”
The momentum to register new voters suffered a setback this week as voting rights advocates criticized Secretary of State Jesse White for failing to implement automatic voter registration in time for the November election. Last year, Illinois lawmakers approved the automatic voter registration law that adds people to the voting rolls when they obtain or renew a driver’s license. While applicants have the ability to opt out, Democrats believe that many more applicants will be registered to vote
Orr said he believes the surge in voter registration could be because of a change in law that allows people to register online. He said the process may allow younger people to register to vote easily. Orr also said the political climate of the country and social movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo are also factors in voter registration.