Cook Co. Clerk says voting local helps improve quality of life

By Jean Lotus Staff reporter

A rain-filled pothole is the image for Cook County Clerk David Orr’s “Get Vocal Vote Local” campaign that hopes to raise voter participation in the upcoming April 4 consolidated election. (Photo courtesy of Cook County Clerk’s office)

If you’re disappointed in local politicians, “Grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself,” said former President Barack Obama during his final presidential address at McCormick Place Jan. 19.

All politics is local, they say, but few voters participate in local elections. Only 19 percent of registered voters in Cook County voted in the 2015 consolidated election, according to Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Orr’s “Get Vocal, Vote Local” campaign is trying to take advantage a renewed interest in national politics to focus on local quality of life issues such as bike paths, clean drinking water, libraries, public pools and playgrounds, as well as programs for mental health, pothole repair and recycling centers, Orr said. A rain-filled pothole is the image of the campaign in a promotional video.

This year, on April 4, elections will take place in 128 municipalities and more than 145 suburban Cook school districts. Primary elections will take place Feb. 28 in Berwyn, Calumet City and Evanston.

The money spent by Cook County local governments last year was $6.7 billion, Orr said. “Don’t let just 19 percent of voters decide where your tax dollars go.”

“So many parts of everyday lives, be it the crossing guard at the local school, the village animal shelter where families adopt their new best friends, or the first responders who always answer the call, are all affected by the budgets set by local units of government,” Orr said. “When voters take part in their local elections, they are part of the decision-making process. When concerned and engaged citizens take the first steps to run for office, they’re helping generate interest among voters and contributing to the vitality of our democratic process.”

Voting in local elections helps determine how tax dollars are spent. (Photo courtesy of Cook County Clerk’s office)

“Show up. Dive in. Persevere,” Obama said, encouraging local participation in democracy. “Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. [L]et me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America — and in Americans — will be confirmed.”

Important deadlines are coming up for the April 7 elections. March 7 is the last day to register (on paper) for the consolidated election. Grace period registration and voting begins March 8. The last day to register online is March 19. Early voting begins March 20 with the last day to request a mail ballot March 30. April 3 is the last day of grace period registration and voting. April 4 is the election, and the last day mail ballots can be postmarked.



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