It’s one thing for a government agency to make itself available to citizens who need its services. It’s quite another for that agency to go out and directly engage citizens in the process of democracy itself.
That’s the work Cook County David Orr’s office has been engaged in as part of a new law allowing 17 year olds who will turn 18 by the November election to cast a ballot in the spring primary. Since the beginning of the year, the County Clerk has reached out to all 89 high schools in suburban Cook County to actively educate and register new voters affected by the law.
As a result, 5,439 new voters have been registered to vote, including 3,423 17-years eligible to vote in 2014. The remaining 2,006 new voters are 18 year olds.
As part of the outreach effort, Orr’s office trained student deputy registrars, conducted a video contest and organized “Democracy Week,” to help spread the word about the new law.
“The enthusiasm displayed by students, teachers and deputy registrar organizations was phenomenal,” Orr said in a statement. “A habit of lifelong voting is born early, so the hope is these teenagers will vote in the March 18 primary and every election that follows.
Among the schools that participated in voter registration drives, Lyons Township registered 423 new voters, New Trier 309, Palatine 258 and Lemont, which signed up 231.