Newsletter - November 2023

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Newsletter Highlights

New Citizens are registered to vote

Changes to Voting Rules

The County Budget Process: More Than Numbers

New Citizens Are Registered to Vote in Cook County

Photo by Edmond Dantes

130 people from forty countries were granted U.S. citizenship at a naturalization ceremony at the Chicago Botanic Garden on October 30. Deputy registrars and assistants from the Glenview-Glencoe League and Palatine Area League teamed up to register 77 of the new citizens after they received their certificates, a phenomenal number. It was inspiring to help our newest fellow countrypersons follow the encouragement of the ceremony speakers to get involved with the democratic process.

-- Susan Swaringen

Voting News from the Cook County Clerk's Office

The Cook County League Voter Service Committee met with the Election Division Staff of the County Clerk's Office. They learned about these changes.

  • Effective January 1, 2024, 16- and 17-year-olds will be able to pre-register to vote, but only through the Illinois State Board of Elections’ online registration. They must have an Illinois State I.D. or Driver’s License to pre-register. The State Election Board will forward the pre-registration to the appropriate local election authority when the person is old enough to vote.


  • 17-year-olds who will be be 18 prior to the November 5, 2024 election can register to vote online or be registered by a deputy registrar. These 17-year-olds can then vote in the March 19, 2024 Primary. 

  •   People who sign up for the permanent vote-by-mail list will be able to opt to only get non-partisan ballots (for referendum) or a particular political party ballot for Primaries. 

  • The Clerk’s web site is being updated to allow people to verify whether they are on the permanent vote-by-mail list and to make changes to their vote-by-mail status.

  •  The Clerk has an online Sign-up Tool to receive election information via email, including a newsletter from the Clerk’s office.


  •  Candidate filings for the Primary election can be submitted starting Monday, November 27 thru Monday, December 4. 

  • A full report of the meeting between the Clerk's Office and the Cook County Voter Service Committee was sent to the voter service chairs of the Local Leagues

LWVCC Interest Groups report on important news in Cook County Government

Cook County and MWRD Governments Interest Group

Observers recorded interesting facts from the Cook County Budget meetings

  •  Post Covid most County departments are still struggling to fill vacancies, though there is starting to be improvement. Some of the departments have been approved to be part of a pilot program to utilize hiring and retention bonuses

  •   So far, implementation of “no cash bail” (which became effective under the Safe-T-Act in mid-September) has gone well, as reported by the Public Defender and State’s Attorney. The State’s Attorney office has made 650 requests for detention, and 60% have been granted by judges..

  •  The Chief Judge has developed computer codes to track the reasons for criminal trial continuances. This new process of tracking court proceedings is being implemented and should provide better information on why cases are delayed.

  • Cook County Health is now building medical, surgical, and nursing services for reproductive health, family planning, and abortion access.


  • The County is using a portion of the federal ARPA funds for behavioral health, care for new arrivals, mental health, a guaranteed income 2-year pilot program, and community-based violence prevention, including domestic violence prevention.

  • The County is also starting a new special purpose fund with County dollars to be able to continue some of the ARPA programs beyond 2026 (the end date for using ARPA dollars).


  •  All departments should be off the computer main frame (which is costly to maintain, and there are few people with the knowledge to maintain it) by the end of 2024.

The Budget Process

The Cook County and MWRD Governments Group has been following the budget process at Cook County for over 15 years. We have made suggestions for improving the process, and we are pleased that Cook County has implemented many of those. One of the improvements is to allow the Commissioners at least 10 days to review the proposed budget before meeting with departments to ask questions.


Main steps of the process:

  • Departments submit their proposed budgets in the summer and then work with the Budget Department to bring the proposed expenses in line with the projected revenues.
  • The Cook County President submits a proposed balanced budget in October to the Cook County Board, which in turn refers the budget to the Board’s Finance Committee for consideration.
  •  The Finance Committee holds public hearings for resident comments, and public meetings with the departments for the Commissioners to ask questions.
  • Proposed amendments to the budget are submitted and vetted by the Budget Department to make sure there is a revenue source for every proposed increase expenditure.
  •  The Finance Committee votes on adopting any of the vetted amendments, followed by a vote to recommend that the Board adopt the budget, as amended. This will take place on Nov. 16 this year. 
  •  The County Board then meets to vote on this budget as amended. 
  •  This 2024 budget will be in effect for the County’s fiscal year, that begins December 1.
  • A similar process is followed for the Cook County Forest Preserve District (except the fiscal year begins January 1) and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (fiscal year begins January 1)

Forest Preserve Interest Group

Members of the LWVCC Forest Preserve Interest Group met at the Cook County Forest Preserve Volunteer Resource office in Chicago on October 15. We met with the interim director and learned about many volunteer opportunities in the Cook County Forest Preserve. Volunteer opportunities include trail watch, stewardship, monitors, litter clean up, seed gathering, planned burns and much more. The goal of the volunteer relationship is to “care” by recruiting, training and supporting the volunteers. 


In 2022 there were 1799 new volunteers. 79K service hours, 9000 hours of trail watch, and 200 Community Science Monitors. As with many organizations there is a struggle to attract and engage volunteers. Additionally, there is a struggle to hire new personnel by the Cook County Forest Preserve and the contractors that are used to perform projects in the forests. These challenges impact the rate of restoration. Fortunately, there are 9000+ acres under volunteer stewardship.

See the Forest Preserve Website Volunteer Page for more information and to sign up to volunteer.

Criminal Justice Interest Group

No Cash Bail - Monitoring the New Process

  • The Criminal Justice Interest Group and other volunteers have monitored the new court proceedings in Cook and Winnebago Counties and found that the courts were following the new process well.

  • The next book discussion will be on "This is My Jail" by Melanie Newport. It will be Feb. 23, 2024 at 9AM via Zoom.

  • The next regular meeting will be Dec. 1st via Zoom

  • To participate in any of these activities , please contact Jan Goldberg

What Is AI – and How Could it Put Elections and Democracy at Risk?

The Chicago League recently sponsored a program on Artificial Intelligence in connection with upcoming elections, covering the challenges that AI poses, as well as the opportunities to use it in a positive way. The University of Chicago’s Chief Information Officer Kevin Boyd and the University’s Chief Information Security Officer Matt Morton gave the presentation. Don’t miss the first 5 minutes (and don’t spoil it for others!).   Watch the event recording.

LWVCC observes and reports on board and committee meetings of Cook County government entities to provide our members with an understanding of current issues. To read more: LWVCC Observer Reports

Local League Upcoming Events

Thursday, November 30, 4:00 -6:00pm

LWV Oak Park River Forest

FLW Bagley House Tour

121 S. County Line Road, Hinsdale

$20 Ticket Price

Purchase Tickets Here

2023-2024 Cook County League Board Members 

OFFICERS: President: Cynthia Schilsky, LaGrange Area; Vice-Presidents: Pris Mims, Chicago, Kathi Graffam, LaGrange Area; Secretary: Carolyn Cosentino, Homewood/Flossmoor; Treasurer: Trudy Turner, Evanston.

Board membersLaura Davis, Palatine; Diane Edmundson, Chicago; Jan Goldberg, LaGrange Area ; Betty Hayford, Evanston; Karin Hribar, Arlington Heights; Sandra Slayton, Homewood-Flossmoor


The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan, political organization whose mission is to encourage informed and active participation in government; to increase understanding of major policy issues, and to influence public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to anyone regardless of gender, race, or ethnic group.


League of Women Voters of Cook County

332 S. Michigan Ave. Suite 634, Chicago, IL 60604

312-939-5935 x127