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Editorial: Register to vote

Updated: October 29, 2012 6:51AM

This is the time of the year when we like to remind Chicago voters to register to vote.

The registration deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 9. Election Day is Nov. 6.

Usually, we pluck out the most competitive races and urge voters to weigh in.

But it’s a bit of a struggle in Chicago this year. The presidential race is locked up in Illinois and, in Chicago, most “races” have only one candidate, a Democrat. And most of the so-called contested races aren’t particularly competitive.

It’s not surprising, then, that new numbers show voter registration is down by nearly a quarter million from four years ago — before Barack Obama was President Barack Obama. The number of registered voters has dropped 225,000 to 1.27 million.

Suburban Cook County is doing better. Registration there, where several congressional seats are in play, is off only 8,000 from four years ago.

But we don’t give up easily. Every Chicagoan would do well to keep his or her voting muscles in good order. That’s especially important because Chicago has a new ward map, which means precincts and polling places may have changed. It’s also never been easier to register and to vote. For details, go to

Plus, there are still plenty of good reasons to vote:

◆ In Chicago and across Illinois, all voters will weigh in on a proposed constitutional amendment. It would require any increase in public pension benefits to pass by a third-fifth majority vote. Given an unfunded pension liability that is expected to reach $93 billion next summer, squeezing out spending on education, health care and social services, this is an amendment no one should miss. Some precincts also will vote on the idea of shifting to an elected school board in Chicago.

◆ There are also about 60 judges up for retention — some deserving, some not — and two races make the definite do-not-miss list: the 10th district state representative race, where indicted former Rep. Derrick Smith is trying to reclaim his seat; and the 2nd Congressional, where U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson, who has been on medical leave since June, faces two opponents.

◆ The winner of the presidential race is also looking for a mandate — and that comes from the popular vote. Whether for Obama or Romney, your candidate would do well to know just how many Americans are standing behind him.

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