David Orr, Cook County Clerk
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Clerk Orr gives Election Day tips, trends 

November 5, 2012

 Courtney Greve: 312.603.0931  312.502.3267

Gail Siegel: 312.603.0993  847.612.4460

 Press packet (large file)

Mail, Early & Grace-Period voting participation up over '08

Suburban Cook County voters set new records for all three types of pre-Election Day voting leading up to Tuesday’s Presidential Election, Cook County Clerk David Orr announced Monday.

Nearly twice as many people registered and voted during the grace period, mail ballot applications surged 41 percent and Early Voting turnout surpassed the previous record set in 2008.

“More than a half million Cook County voters – 20 percent of all registered voters – have already voted,” Orr said. “Voters are enthusiastic about this election and have taken advantage of the many convenient options for casting a ballot.”

Cook County Presidential Election Information 2008-2012



2008 Total

2012 (unofficial)

2012 Total (unofficial)


Sub Cook


Sub Cook

Registered Voters







Early Voting







Grace Period Voting







Mail Voting/Absentee







Pre-Election Ballots







*The 2008 mail/absentee numbers include all ballots that arrived up to two weeks after Election Day. The 2012 number includes mail/absentee ballots returned through early Sunday. Another 15,000 Chicago voters and 20,000 suburban Cook County voters have applied and not yet returned their mail/absentee ballot.

Early Voting was five days shorter than in 2008, yet 2,881 more suburban Cook County voters participated and the average daily turnout was 18,854 (versus 13,879 four years ago).

Early Voting turnout in suburban Cook County was greatest in the 2nd Congressional District (20% of registered voters), followed by the 7th (18.5%), 9th (18%) and 6th (17.8%). Thornton Township had the most early voters and half of all early voters were age 55 and older.  

The Clerk’s office processed more mail ballot applications this election than ever before, likely because voters no longer need an excuse to vote by mail. About 44,500 suburban Cook County voters applied for a mail ballot, up from 31,600 in 2008.

More than 19,000 voters age 65 and older requested a mail ballot, as did about 8,600 voters ages 18 to 24. Voters in Wheeling and Northfield townships applied for the most mail ballots. 

Mail ballots will be counted as long as they are postmarked by today and received by Nov. 20. Voters who do not get their ballot to a post office by 5 p.m. today can vote in their precinct on Election Day.

Voters who returned their mail ballots or cast ballots during Early Voting or Grace Period Voting cannot vote in their precinct on Election Day. Election judges are supplied with stamps to mark the application book for voters who already cast ballots. Attempting to vote more than once is a felony.

The Clerk’s office will deploy its staff, investigators and state’s attorneys to investigate any irregular or suspect activity on Election Day. Voters who witness anything irregular are encouraged to call the legal hotline at 312.603.0236.

Overall suburban Cook County turnout in presidential elections peaked at 75.9 percent in 1992. Turnout was 73.5 percent in 2008, 74.3 percent in 2004 and 72.9 percent in 2000.

Tuesday, suburban Cook County’s 1,637 precincts will be staffed by about 9,500 election judges and equipment managers, including more than 2,000 high school and college students.

Orr encourages suburban Cook County voters to verify their polling place before heading to vote on Tuesday. For some voters, this will be the first time they vote since redistricting and precinct reductions following the 2010 Census. As a result, some polling locations have changed.

Suburban Cook County voters were mailed a red-white-and-blue notice that included their polling place information. Voters can also use the online Voter Information tool at cookcountyclerk.com/elections/voterprofile. Enter your name and address to find your polling place and a Google map with directions. Or if you have a smartphone, go to m.cookcountyclerk.com for a mobile-friendly version of the Voter Information tool.

Orr offers these Election Day tips and reminders:

  • Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Polling places are least crowded from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Anyone in line when polls close at 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote.
  • Voters will have a choice of voting on a touch screen or with a paper ballot.
  • Verify your polling place with the Voter Information tool at cookcountyclerk.com/elections or from your smart phone at m.cookcountyclerk.com.
  • The Clerk’s office has voter hotlines in five languages (English: 312.603.0906; Spanish: 312.603.6767; Chinese: 312:603.6769; Hindi: 312.603.6743; and Polish: 312.603.6770), as well as a TDD line for the hearing impaired (312.603.0902), a help line for voters with disabilities (312.603.0929) and a legal line to report fraud an irregularities (312.603.0236).

Election results will be tabulated after polls close at 7 p.m. and posted at cookcountyclerk.com. Unofficial election night results will include Election Day precinct votes, plus Early Voting, Grace Period and Mail ballots received through Monday.