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Tuesday is last day to register to vote

Updated: October 9, 2012 9:28AM

Tuesday is the deadline for voter registration, and officials are bracing for last-minute applications even though they say the pre-election frenzy of 2008 is missing.

Voter registration in Chicago and suburban Cook County is down slightly from 2008. And in the suburban counties, registration numbers are only slightly higher than they were four years ago.

“There was a huge rush of new registers in 2008, and we’re definitely not seeing any of that enthusiasm,” said spokeswoman Courtney Greve of the Cook County Clerk’s office.

Willard Helander, the Lake County clerk, agreed. “We don’t have that rapid fire impulse of registration,” she said.

But officials from both Cook County and the suburbs are planning for a last-minute stream of new registrations Tuesday at their offices.

The Chicago Board of Elections will be open until midnight on Tuesday to accommodate last-minute registrations, and the six Cook County Clerk’s offices will be keeping their doors open until 8 p.m.

The Board of Elections was open Monday, despite the fact that most government offices were closed for Columbus Day.

Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Elections, said that the city hasn’t seen a “blockbuster wave of last minute registrations,” but that they have kept their offices open in part to file new registrations.

“Part of the reason we were open over the weekend was to process that last minute rush that we have had. We’ve gotten well over 30,000 forms over the last week, so by the time we’re done with mail that’s postmarked the 9th, but received the 10th or 11th, we’re talking 60,000 forms.”

While those numbers may seem big, Allen called them a “more normal last minute rush” for a presidential election.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of the 30 million citizens who were not registered to vote in 2008 said that they did not register because they failed to meet the registration deadlines.

And according to Greve, voters tend to wait to register until the last minute.

“In the last five days of voter registration in 2008, we received about 30,000 registrations,” she said. “Since last Monday, we’ve received about 9,000, so there just isn’t that frenzied activity.”

Officials did say that they are already seeing a flurry of activity in a different area — mail-in voting.

“We’re expecting to see rather significant early voting, whether it’s in-person or absentee, because the polls indicate that people have their minds made up,” Allen said.

Suburban Cook County is expecting the same.

“It’s the first time in Illinois during the presidential election that anybody can vote by mail,” said Greve. She said numbers are up from the 2008 election mail ballot requests by 200 percent.

Helander said Lake County mailed out approximately 9,000 ballots on the first day they were available.

While eligible citizens can register to vote via mail-in application, it’s unlikely that late registers will be able to meet Tuesday’s deadline by mailing in applications. Those who haven’t registered yet will likely need to apply in person at either a county clerk’s office or board of elections, or at a department of motor vehicles location.

Applicants will need two forms of identification in order to apply, one of which must include a current address. A photo ID is not required to register to vote in Illinois, like it is in other states.

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