02/14/2012 10:21 am ET

Chicago Voter Registration Currently At Lowest Ever Level

With just one week to go before the Feb. 21 registration deadline for next month's primary election, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners announced Monday that the number of registered voters in the city is currently at a record low.

Board spokesman James Allen told the Chicago Tribune that, as of Monday, only about 1.28 million Chicagoans are currently registered to vote -- the lowest number since 1942, the first year when the city began to keep track of such matters.

According to CBS Chicago, based on the most recent U.S. Census data, as many as 500,000 city residents are eligible voters but are not currently registered.

Officials say the lack of a real contest for President Barack Obama in the democratic presidential primary is largely to blame, as well as nationwide voter apathy, CBS reports.

The Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Brown added a few considerations to the mix, arguing that the March 20 primary is "an especially low-interest election for Chicagoans" because the congressional and local races don't offer much "to get Democratic juices flowing" in advance of the fall's general election.

Also, Brown points out, the city's population has been on the decline -- 200,000 lower in 2010, than the decade before that and 900,000 lower than in 1950, around when local voter registration peaked.

Last year, voter registration data from several parts of Illinois -- namely 14 of the state's 102 counties -- had the opposite problem: They were home to more registered voters than voting-age residents. In Rock Island County, for example, that discrepancy stood at 11,516 people -- though the Rock Island County Clerk said the number could be attributed to a delay in updating voter rolls rather than a "dead voting" or other fraudulent phenomena.

If you're a Chicago resident, you can still check your voter status and register by Feb. 21 to vote in next month's primary election.

Beyond that date, voters may also register through a "grace period," through March 13, requiring that they vote at the election board's downtown headquarters, as WBEZ points out.