Friday, March 23, 2018

More fun with numbers: County population drops while numbers of registered voters increases

The Tribune reported yesterday that population has dropped in the Chicago area for a third consecutive year. Elvia Malagon writes that population has actually increased in some of the collar counties, but has not increased enough to offset the loss of population here in County Cook.

What does that have to do with judges, you ask? Well, a few years back, when the 2010 census figures confirmed a significant population loss, the number of associate judge vacancies was immediately scaled back. Full circuit judges are creatures of statute, but the number of AJs in Cook County rises and falls with population.

More generally, the numbers of people living here should have an impact on the numbers of people voting in judicial elections. But the numbers are clear as mud:

According to Malagon's story, Cook County lost 20,093 residents in 2017, more than 14,000 residents in 2016, and another 8,000 residents in 2015. That's a drop of 42,000 or so since 2014, right?

On the other hand, there were 1,368,290 voters registered in Chicago for the 2014 Primary, according to the Chicago Board of Election's Official Summary Report of that election. There were 1,451,593 registered voters in the suburbs in that same year according to the County Clerk's Summary Report of the March 2014 General Primary Election. That adds up to 2,819,883 registered voters in Cook County in 2014.

For this primary, according to the CBOE, there were 1,494,199 registered voters in the City of Chicago. The County Clerk says there were 1,549,688 registered voters in the suburbs for this election. That adds up to 3,043,887 voters in the county as a whole.

The county's population dropped by 42,000 in the last four years and yet the voting rolls increased by 224,004.

Ah, but you say, we've made it easier to register in recent years; we've made a great civic effort to make sure every eligible citizen is registered to vote.

OK. That could account for some increase. Maybe. But, still, the trend lines seem remarkably different, aren't they?

You wold expect (I would expect, anyway) that voter registration would be highest for a presidential election. In 2016, for the November election, the City of Chicago reported 1,570,529 registered voters; the County Clerk reported 1,512,190 voters. That's 3,082,719 voters, almost 40,000 more than were registered for this election just past.

In 2012, there were 1,384,671 registered voters in the City of Chicago and another 1,416,811 registered voters in suburban Cook County. That's 2,801,482 total registered voters for Cook County in the November 2012 general election when Chicago resident Barack Obama was on the ballot seeking a second term in the White House. (And that may not have been the only reason, but it surely was a factor in why, in terms of percentages of registered voters, there was a greater turnout in 2012 than in 2016.)

But even though more a higher percentage of registered voters came out in 2012 than in 2016, there were 280,000 fewer registered voters in 2012 than in 2016. And the population was dropping, right? Well, not necessarily.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Cook County has grown, albeit by only .2%, since 2010. In that year, according to the Census Bureau, Cook County had a population of 5,194,675. The Bureau now estimates the population of Cook County (as of July 1, 2017) to be 5,211,263 -- an increase -- but an increase of only 16,588. And the 5,211,263 population figure for 2017 is 16,312 less than the population figure for 2016 (5,227,575) on that site. And did you notice that none of these numbers are the same as those cited in the Tribune article? But, any way you slice it, Cook County's population did not go up 280,000 between 2012 and 2016.

I'm not going to make any dramatic assertions based on this data, and I don't think any are warranted. But I sure would like some serious explanation as to how we can be losing residents and gaining voters at the same time. I'll be launching some queries today and I will update if I receive anything back.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

more of the people who remain register to vote??? there seems to be great emphasis on voter registration and actual voting these days....