Identifying suburban Cook County voters

July 7, 2005
Press Release

When it comes to voting, men in their early 70s are the most dedicated to showing up at the polls in suburban Cook County, according to figures released by Cook County Clerk David Orr.

An analysis of the April 2005 Consolidated Election shows that 42.7 percent of registered 72-year-old men cast ballots, demonstrating the largest voter turnout of any age group.

Their voter participation far exceeded the county-wide average for turnout among suburban registered voters, which was 27 percent.

A similar look at voter participation in the November 2004 presidential election showed that two groups of women – those ages 55 and 61 – were the most committed to voting. The Clerk’s study showed that 82.4 percent of those registered females cast ballots last year, outpacing the county-wide female average of 74 percent and male average of 71 percent.

The analysis involved using voter registration files from each precinct to retrieve the dates of birth for voters who signed applications to receive ballots on Election Day. The information was then entered into the County’s voter database.

The process, which takes several months, produced a gender analysis of turnout figures for registered voters ages 18 to 100.

“We see confirmation again that older voters traditionally vote at higher rates than younger voters,” Orr said. “We unfortunately still see the lowest participation among individuals in their 20s.”

Although the lowest turnout in the April 2005 and November 2004 elections was among voters in their late 90s, who might have difficulty getting to the polls, they were followed by men in their 20s.

Less than 7.4 percent of 27-year-old men who were registered to vote in the April 2005 election cast ballots on Election Day. In the 2004 presidential election, men aged 21 had a 47.3 percent turnout rate compared to the countywide average of 74 percent.

“Considering that we typically see low turnout across the board for municipal elections, we’re encouraged that the turnout rates among younger voters in November were actually higher than what we saw in the last analysis we did after last year’s March primary,” Orr said. “Back then, the participation rates for those in their 20s ranged from only 9 percent to 20 percent.”

Orr noted that the Clerk’s Teen Democracy programs seem to be effective in fostering interest in the electoral process among high school students and their older peers. The programs allow students to register their friends to vote and to learn about the importance of elections.