The surge | Bleader

The surge

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Some locals are expressing shock and trying to analyze Barack Obama's loss in the New Hampshire primary this week. As one powerful, north-side alderman who might have an estranged family member in state government said--admiringly--of Hillary Clinton, "I think people saw her crying and said, 'This bitch is human--she's got feelings.'"

But Obama's win in Iowa apparently electrified voters here and may inspire turnouts that affect other contests on the February 5 ballot. According to Jim Allen, communications director for the Chicago Board of Elections, between January 3, the day of the Iowa caucuses, and January 8, when traditional voter registration closed in Illinois, nearly 20,000 city residents signed up to vote. And the registrations were "heavily skewed" to people under 30, Allen said.

"I don’t know if we’re quite at the point where voting has become cool, but there’s never been a last-minute rush like this for the primary in Illinois," Allen said.

Of course, the primary's being held here a month earlier than previously, so it's the first time in decades that Illinois residents will vote in one that matters.

People who haven't registered still can [PDF]--they just have to go down to the Board of Elections office at 69 W. Washington to do it.

Early voting starts at 51 sites throughout the city next week. Allen predicts record turnouts there too.

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