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Saturday noontime wrap-up

Saturday, Oct 30, 2004

The Daily Southtown runs an AP story about increased voter registration. It’s way up:

Illinois voter registration is at an all-time high this year, with more than 7.5 million residents eligible to cast ballots in Tuesday’s election, state officials said Friday. [Snip]

In 2000, the last presidential election, 7.13 million Illinois residents registered to vote in the general election. Statewide voter turnout for that election was 69 percent.

The state’s record registration was set last spring, when nearly 7.14 million people registered to vote in the primary. The state’s voting age population is about 9.1 million, according to the state board.

Requests for absentee ballots have been high for the general election this year, indicating a high voter turnout is likely, though the number of absentee ballots actually returned won’t be known until after the election, White said.

In the Chicago suburbs of Cook County, for example, 38,817 absentee ballot applications were mailed out this year, compared with 24,598 mailed four years ago. Cook County Clerk David Orr expects voter turnout to come close to the county’s record high of 76 percent, set in 1992, when more than 1 million votes were cast.

Cook County has 1.38 million registered voters this fall, up from 1.3 million in the 2000 general election, when voter turnout in the county was 72.9 percent.

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The Southern Illinoisan is very skeptical of yesterday’s $15 million coal project announcement by Governor Rod Blagojevich and targeted Sen. Gary Forby. And there’s a very coincidental ad placement right in the middle of the story:
Is it an economic boon for the dying Southern Illinois coal industry or an 11th hour election ploy? That question played out in Southern Illinois Friday afternoon and was answered strictly along partisan lines.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich rolled into Southern Illinois to announce the release of $5 million in funds to conduct a front-end engineering and design study on a project to build a 500-megawatt coal gasification power plant and mine in Williamson County. [Snip]

Flanked by a host of only Democratic legislators, Blagojevich said all attending the press conference had worked to support the effort, but the governor singled out state Sen. Gary Forby and labeled the Benton Democrat as the “driving force” in securing the project and funding. [Snip]

While the Democratic governor was touting the announcement as the revival of the ailing Southern Illinois coal industry, his Republican counterparts cried foul at the timing of the press conference — held only three days before the election, as Forby is locked in a too-close-to-call race with Republican challenger Ron Summers, also of Benton.

ADVERTISEMENT - STORY CONTINUES BELOW
[This advertiesment, believe it or not, is for Forby’s Republican opponent, Ron Summers]

State Sen. John O. Jones, R-Mount Vernon, said the actual decision to fund the $5 million — $2.5 million from the Illinois Clean Coal Review Board and $2.5 million from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity — was made more than six weeks ago.

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The State Journal-Register runs a piece about a fired Republican state worker.
The former head of internal affairs for the Illinois Department of Revenue said he was fired after complaining about security cutbacks at the agency and because he is a Republican.

Doug Howard, 50, who now lives in Tennessee, also said he was ousted shortly after complaining that Revenue administrators refused to lock down the Willard Ice Building after the fatal shooting of a security guard in the Capitol just four blocks away.

“I made my opinion known to a few people that I spoke with that day, and frankly, I believe that it got back to (the administrators),” Howard said. “I think my termination … was retaliation.”

Revenue spokeswoman Geraldine Conrad said neither politics nor Howard’s complaints about security led to his firing.

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And the Daily Herald has a story about Island Lake limiting the number of political yard signs.
In Island Lake, the village board passed an ordinance Thursday night to ban political signs on public property. That means no signs can be in parks, next to streets or at subdivision entrances. Signs are allowed only in a property owner’s yard with permission.

“I swear there are more signs than dandelions in Island Lake for the April elections,” said Trustee Tom Martin, who admits he had signs for five candidates in his yard this month. “This is basically set up to improve the looks of Island Lake during campaign time.” [Snip[

Martin said the ordinance Island Lake passed Thursday will eliminate hundreds of campaign signs in front of polling places on election day, because land there is village property.

“Signage is one of the key marketing strategies in any campaign,” Martin said. “I would prefer to see candidate performance records established with name recognition to be the key decision at the polling place.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

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