Abernathy: State's record-high voter signups signal thirst for change
Illinois is experiencing a resurgence in voting for this election cycle. The number of registered voters currently is at its highest levels since 1970, surpassing the numbers during the 2008 campaign, when President Obama first ran for president.
Dawn Abernathy, Republican candidate in the District 59 state House race, said the numbers are high because the voters want change.
“I think there is such a high number of voters because the people of this country, this state and this district are tired of the same old status quo of politics,” Abernathy told the Lake County Gazette. “They are tired of their hard-earned money going into the hands of corrupt politicians. They are tired of the pay-for-play politics that has been happening for years. They are just plain tired."
As of last Oct. 25, there are nearly 7.99 million registered active voters and 758,000 inactive voters in Illinois. The active number will likely surpass 8 million by Election Day Nov. 8.
Abernathy said voters in the state are tired of House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and his party controlling the Assembly.
“The most prevalent line I have heard at the doors is the people are tired of Mike Madigan, and how can they get rid of him,” Abernathy said. “I tell them, ‘Vote for me, Dawn Abernathy. I will not vote for him to be speaker of the House.’ My opponent, (state Rep.) Carol Sente (D-Vernon Hills), has already said she will vote for him to be speaker again. She has no choice. He funds her campaign.”
The large amount of registered voters has cast a scrutinizing eye on vote fraud, with allegations that such instances already have occurred in Kankakee County. Just recently, a woman from Iowa was arrested for voting twice.
While it is a concern for many, Abernathy said she believes law enforcement will ensure that fraud is detected and punished accordingly.
“It is sad that people are unable to go to the polls and cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice,” Abernathy said. “Is there voter fraud and corruption? I would hope not. But I do believe in our justice system and that if there is voter fraud, the guilty will be charged. Scare tactics and favors have been happening for years in Chicago, "The Chicago Way," unfortunately, looks like it is starting to spill over into the suburbs.
Illinois voters may have a reason to turn out in such high numbers. The state is in dire financial straits and the prospect of the same old policies, as Abernathy mentioned previously, is a concern to voters.
Another concern to voters is jobs. The unemployment numbers recently came in for September, and while the unemployment rate decreased, so did manufacturing jobs and the overall workforce, which has shrunk for five months consecutively. 5,500 people dropped out of the workforce, and 88 manufacturing jobs were lost.
“Unfortunately, this has been the trend for Illinois for over a year,” Abernathy said. “Not only are businesses leaving the state, but our workforce is going with them. The only way out of this is we have to change the economic climate here in Illinois. We need to be competitive and reform workman's comp. It is too expensive to do business in Illinois.”
Abernathy also said Illinois is a state of great resources, workers and minds that are being squandered.
“We have an extremely educated, skilled workforce, but with no jobs, we are unable to keep the people here, mostly millennials,” Abernathy said. “They are the largest group leaving the state.”