Here's how low voter turnout could impact Illinois primary election tomorrow

Illinois Board of Elections predicts lowest voter turnout in presidential primary in 12 years

Tuesday, March 19, 2024
How low voter turnout could impact Illinois primary election results
As voters weigh Bring Chicago Home pros and cons, organizers are trying to get more people to the polls ahead of Illinois Election Day.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The final push is now on to get voters to the polls before Tuesday's primary.

One of the key issues on the ballot is the Bring Chicago Home referendum, which would create a dedicated income stream to address homelessness.

With voter turnout expected to be very low for this primary election, it may not take much for one side or the other to win when it comes to this referendum. It's a matter of whose voters are more motivated.

"If you don't vote, I don't want to hear your mouth," voter Rodney Hill said. "You can't say anything about any candidate or what somebody's doing or what somebody's not doing."

On this election eve, the behind-the-scenes work continued in earnest in the Bring Chicago Home war room. Campaign workers have been making calls and sending texts, trying to get people to the polls.

"We've got over 100 volunteer organizers. They're going to be hitting the polls with us and hitting the streets. Up until today, up until tomorrow and we're extremely excited. I think that we fare well," said Bring Chicago Home Political Director Vaughn Roland.

SEE ALSO | IL Supreme Court denies appeal of counting votes for controversial Bring Chicago Home referendum

Voters lined up outside the downtown supersite on Monday morning to cast their ballots, and a steady stream of voters continued into the afternoon.

"I vote every time, all the time. My vote counts," voter Lori said.

With the Illinois Board of Elections predicting this will be the lowest voter turnout in a presidential primary in 12 years, it could help those supporting the Bring Chicago Home referendum.

"I think that progressives are, they have boots on the ground, they have unions, they have activists, they have a lot of people that they can get out to push for this vote and they've been doing it for months," said ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington.

The referendum would help address homelessness by raising the one time transfer tax on homes and buildings sold for over $1 million and lower it slightly for those sold for less.

"No, I'm not bringing Chicago home," voter Rodney Hill said. "That's just a tax that's going to raise the rents because it's tax on the properties over $1 million. Most of these properties they're renting out are worth at least $1 million. So it's going to fall back on the renters."

"I did a little research on that. And it's fine," voter Carlo Govia said.

READ MORE | Chicago Votes parade leads CPS students to voting polls amid 'Bring Chicago Home' referendum debate

It has been marketed as a so-called "mansion tax," which the business community calls misleading. They say the referendum will have unintended consequences.

"It's going to make your everyday more expensive to live in Chicago, whether it's with paying more to own a home, pay more to rent a home," said Corey Oliver with the Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance.

But if the lower turnout helps advocates for Bring Chicago Home, whose supporters may be more motivated, they also have had to work hard to overcome two factors.

The referendum is at the end of the ballot and with three parts and a lot of numbers to digest. It's a little complicated, which would cost it some votes.

"The ballot initiative language is very long, and that lends itself to this might be confusing, and people vote no on confusing language," said democratic political consultant Tom Bowen.

SEE ALSO | Experts warn Chicago of SoCal transfer tax referendum's negative impact on commercial real estate

Both sides have also used TV ads or others on social media to spread their message. Now, they're down to the wire, and it will all come down to voter turnout.

Another high-stake race is for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

Two Democrats, Clayton Harris III and Eileen O'Neill Burke, are vying for the spot.

The winner of the primary will face off against Republican Bob Fioretti and Libertarian Andrew Charles Kopinski.

"The state's attorney's race was a big deal for me this time," Lori said. "I made sure that I voted."

"I want tougher crime," voter Nathan said. "This city is overrun with crime. And the one man said 'fairness to the perpetrators.' What about fairness to the victims? That hurts."

Washington also explained that lower voter turnout favors incumbents and big political names, but doesn't look good for races lower on the ballot.

"That's a shame because those lower races have a lot of impact, particularly the judges, particularly the state representatives, state senators," Washington said. "Those lower ballot races do really make a difference."

SEE ALSO | 2024 primary elections: Voter information in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin