Several important deadlines for Illinois residents who wish to participate in the fall mid-term elections arrive this week. First, all late registrations must be completed by the end of the day tomorrow and early voting ends by the close of Thursday. If you want to request an absentee ballot, you've got to do so by October 28 by mail (and November 1 in person).
Early voting is expected to be an strategic turnout tool for Democratic candidates seeking their first or a new term in office, especially in the party's Chicago and Cook County strongholds. The numbers appear somewhat mixed, so far. As expected, early voting in Chicago is down versus 2008 -- when President Barack Obama's campaign pushed the totals higher -- but up over 2006, the last non-presidential year election, as of late last week. In Cook County, more early voters were out versus 2006 as well. On the other hand, there are 40,000 fewer registered black voters in Chicago than in 2006, and 48 out of the city's 50 wards saw a decrease in the number of registered voters.
So the push is on -- to get people to the polls for early voting or to participate on November 2. Today at noon, the SEIU State Council (which sponsors this website) will use mobile billboards, new media, and face-to-face contact to get young voters in Chicago's South Loop, home to thousands of university students, to pledge to cast a ballot this year, according to a press release. On Tuesday, Gov. Pat Quinn's gubernatorial campaign will hold a "Vote Illinois" rally in downtown Chicago, featuring the governor and Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate. Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to headline the event.