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IL: Early Ballots Show Young Voter Spike

By Elizabeth Williamson
Illinois board of elections officials were more willing to talk today about the weather than the voting, saying it's too soon to get a strong bead on statewide turnout. But press them, and they say there's little chance a light rain, mid-30s temps, and a possible freeze toward evening will keep the state from breaking a 15-year turnout record today.

In Cook County, which encompasses most close-in Chicago suburbs, early ballots cast by suburban voters were, at 60,000, nearly double the county's previous record of 32,000 cast in the 2006 gubernatorial election. The numbers featured a spike in young voter ballots and college absentee votes, said County Clerk David Orr. That bodes well for Barack Obama, who polls indicate holds a double-digit lead over Hillary Clinton in his true-blue home state.

Cook County voter registration broke records as well, Orr said in a statement, with 1.35 million suburban Cook voters having registered before the deadline.

Turnout in Sangamon County, home of the capital city of Springfield, was also far exceeding turnout in previous years, election officials there said.

Illinois voters don't typically turn out in huge numbers for primaries, Orr said -- in the 2004 primary, barely 29 percent of registered voters cast ballots. But Orr predicted turnout to bust the 40 percent record set in the state in the 1992 primary, when Bill Clinton won.

By Washington Post editors  |  February 5, 2008; 2:35 PM ET
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