Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago


Langdon D. Neal, Chairman
Richard A. Cowen, Secretary/Commissioner
Marisel A. Hernandez, Commissioner

Lance Gough, Executive Director
Kelly Bateman, Asst. Executive Director

Home > For Voters > Voter Engagement

Voter Engagement

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News release - Community Forum calls for: Same-day registration; On-line registration; Non-precinct-based 'vote centers' to cast ballots

Report - Community Forum recommends election reforms

Video - Community Forum recommends election reforms 


In the City of Chicago alone, there are more than 400,000 voting-age U.S. citizens not registered to vote.  The Pew Center estimates that nationwide, there are 51 million who are eligible but not registered to vote.  How do we grow voter registration, turnouts and engagement - for 2012 and beyond?

The Board of Election Commissioners launched an ambitious outreach program to meet with diverse Civic and Community Leaders to build a plan for comprehensive election reforms to boost registrations and turnout - for 2012 and beyond.

At the launch of "Voter Engagement: 2012" in August 2011, the Board detailed:
  - What changes are coming in 2012 related to the Census, new legislative districts, new precinct and ward boundaries.
  - What possible election reforms that civic and community groups might want to consider. List of concepts and their 'pros' and 'cons'  
  - And how the Board and Civic and Community Leaders could collaborate at a "Community Forum" with real-time voting to build a community-based agenda for election reforms. (Click here for a video of how this forum worked.)

  PDF:  Materials from the Aug. 10 Launch Meeting 

  PDF:  Election Reform Concepts: The Pros & Cons

  Podcast: WBBM 780/105.9 "At Issue" explores the "Voter Engagement 2012" project 

What election-reform concepts were discussed at the Community Forum?

The Community Forum concepts, topics and questions included: 
  - Should military/overseas voters have the ability to return their ballots via secured Internet, fax or phone systems?
  - Should voters with disabilities have the option to vote via secured Internet or phone systems?
  - Should smaller elections, particularly special elections, be conducted entirely by mail?
  - In mid-sized elections, should there be universal 'voting centers' instead of limiting voters to only the polling place in their precinct?
  - Should the Chicago Election Board adopt a system of electronic poll books to replace the paper ballot applications? 
- Should voters be able to launch the voter-registration process more easily through the Internet? 
- Should voters be allowed to register to vote on Election Day instead of the current deadline 28 days before the election?  
- Should voters be required to show ID on Election Day? 
- How could the Chicago Election Board expand voter outreach? 
- Should we work to re-energize "civics" instruction in our grade schools? 
  - Other ideas that Civic and Community Leaders generated and submitted during the Forum.


Historically, America's Presidential Elections have generated the highest levels of interest, enthusiasm and participation among all voter demographics.  In 2012, the Chicago Election Board is teaming up with a diverse network of community partners and civic leaders to: 
  - Engage all stakeholders on ways to expand voter education, registration and turnout.
  - Help various organizations throughout the City access Chicago Election Board programs and services, while informing the organizations of changes coming as a result of the 2010 Census and new state laws.
  - Provide a forum for all community groups and civic organizations to shape comprehensive and concrete reforms in election services - for 2012 and beyond.

To inquire about your organization joining the discussion:
  - Call 312-269-7858
  - tty for hearing impaired 312-269-0027
  - email: