Riopell: North suburban race for Congress drives ballot requests
Something about Lake County's voting outlook didn't look quite right to state elections officials.
So Lake County Clerk Willard Helander got a call this week.
Could it be possible that more people in Lake County were requesting ballots to vote by mail than in the far more populous suburban Cook County?
The possible reason, Helander says, is the nationally watched battle for Congress between Democratic U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield and Republican challenger Bob Dold of Kenilworth in the north suburban 10th District.
Both sides are scurrying for votes and trying to take advantage of the law allowing people to vote by mail without having to explain why they can't vote on Election Day.
Helander said Schneider supporters asked back in May about all the vote-by-mail rules, perhaps foreshadowing they'd be trying to push it hard. Dold's campaign has shown interest, too.
Helander said earlier this week she had 17,309 requests for mail ballots so far, only 2,000 fewer than in all of 2010 with a full month to go.
A spokeswoman for Cook County Clerk David Orr confirms: His office had 13,911 requests, nearly 20 percent fewer. For perspective, there were more than three times as many votes for governor in suburban Cook County in 2010 than there were in Lake County.
Of course, not everyone who asks for a mail ballot will turn one in. And are the campaigns just getting mail ballots to voters who would have voted early or on Election Day anyway?
"Or are they finding new people?" Helander said. "It's hard to know."
Online, Helander made a bolder prediction: "I am starting to think more people may vote BEFORE Election Day than on Nov 4."
Tuesday is the standard deadline to register to vote. There's a grace period when voters who missed the boat can still get registered, and for the first time voters who didn't register in advance can do so on Election Day, Nov. 4.
In-person early voting starts Oct. 20.
A panel of state lawmakers is set to resume its investigation into Quinn's Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, the controversial former anti-violence program that has dogged the governor.
Joining the panel for hearings next week will be state Rep. Dennis Reboletti, an Elmhurst Republican. He replaces Republican state Rep. Rich Brauer of downstate Petersburg, who is recovering from knee surgery.
Reboletti will serve on the panel through the end of his term.
He said he was asked to sit on the panel by House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs. Along with the new assignment came a large binder of documents and background he's studying ahead of two scheduled days of hearings next week.
"I've been studying them and reviewing them," he said.
President Barack Obama made a fundraising stop at the Chicago home of Meredith Bluhm-Wolf Thursday in a swing intended in part to help Quinn's election chances in the president's home state.
According to campaign records, Bluhm-Wolf gave Quinn $5,000 in June, but she's also helped Republicans this year. In 2014, she's given $10,000 to Oswego Republican Tom Cross' campaign for treasurer against Democrat Mike Frerichs of Champaign and $5,000 to Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno of Lemont.