Voter registration figures in suburban Cook County in 2004 were second only to 1992, according to Cook County Clerk David Orr’s post-election report on the Nov. 2 election. And the distinction of second and third highest turnout of registered voters by township belongs to River Forest (84 percent) and Oak Park (81.4 percent) respectively, exceeded only by New Trier Township’s 84.2 percent.
Orr’s post-election wrap-ups always hold interesting tidbits. Barack Obama, for instance, only lost three precincts (out of 2,402) in all of suburban Cook. That’s a record. His opponent (what was his name again?) only prevailed in two precincts in Barrington Township and one in Palatine.
John Kerry scored the second highest number of votes ever, 594,928 (59 percent), which was topped only by Ronald Reagan, 646,444 (65 percent), in his landslide victory of 1984.
Obama’s county-wide total of 729,836, on the other hand, means that a large percentage of those extra 134,908 likely voted for Obama and Bush.
In River Forest Township, 7,307 people were registered to vote while 6,138 actually cast ballots (for the 84 percent total). In Oak Park Township, 34,465 were registered and 28,066 cast ballots. Riverside was the only other west suburban township near the top of the list (fifth at 79.8 percent), while Lyons lagged with a 76 percent turnout. Even Evanston managed only 76.6 percent. Bringing up the rear were our immediate neighbors to the south, Berwyn (67.4 percent) and Cicero (59.6 percent).
The report also contains a summary of how townships have voted for president since 1980. We reported in the past that the first Democrat Oak Park voted for was Michael Dukakis in 1988, but we were off by one election. Oak Park voters actually favored Walter Mondale in 1984 over Ronald Reagan by a total of 13,749 to 13,584. This year’s election, however, was the largest margin of victory for the Democrat, 21,751 for Kerry to 5,782 for Bush (78 percent to 21 percent).
In the Senate contest, Oak Park went for Obama by a margin of 23,761 to 3,243, which means that 2,010 Oak Parkers likely voted for Obama and Bush.
In River Forest, that figure was 972 more votes for Obama than for Kerry. But the total of 3,329 for Kerry over 2,663 for Bush represents the first time River Forest has gone for the Democratic candidate for president (and by a sizable 55 percent to 44 percent margin). They were definitely trending in that direction, however. In 2000, Bush only won by a 49 percent to 47 percent margin.
Oak Park’s voter registration figure for 2004, by the way, represented an 8 percent increase over 2000, but the 81 percent voter turnout was exactly the same as 2000. River Forest’s registration showed a 2 percent increase, but their turnout increased by 1 percent over 2000. Since 1988, River Forest’s turnout has dipped below 80 percent only once?#34;in 1996.
Easily the most depressing statistic in the report concerns the retention of judges. All 74 were retained by large margins, even the two who had no less that 12 bar associations rating them as “unqualified.” Word got around enough apparently so that those two judges, Dorothy F. Jones and Susan Jeanine McDunn, tallied the highest percentage of “No” votes among all 74 judges, but that only resulted in 38 and 37 percent respectively. Those two, plus William D. O’Neal (the third top “No” getter), were the only three judges not endorsed by the Chicago Tribune, further underscoring the fact that voters are not paying much attention when they vote for judge retention.