Did you vote? Only 35% of Chicago residents turned out to vote in runoff election

Sarah Schulte Image
Friday, April 7, 2023
Chicago voter turnout 2023: Only 35% of Chicagoans turned out to vote in runoff mayoral election
Voting as never been easier and more accessible in Chicago, yet, only 35% of city residents voted in Tuesday's runoff election.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Brandon Johnson's win came during a tight race with Paul Vallas.

Just over a third of Chicago's registered voters cast their ballots in the runoff.

With early voting, mail-in ballots, drop boxes and extended voting hours, voting as never been easier and more accessible in Chicago, yet, only 35% of city residents voted in Tuesday's runoff election.

RELATED: Chicago mayoral election results: Brandon Johnson wins race after Paul Vallas concedes

"I was too busy," said Chicago resident Eric Fox, when asked why he didn't vote Tuesday.

"I just didn't no particular reason. Sorry y'all," said another resident.

Englewood sits in the 16th Ward, where turnout was less than 20% -- the lowest in the city.

With just over 21%, the 14th, 15th and 22nd Wards were not too far behind. They are primarily Latino wards, where turnout is traditionally low.

The Chicago Board of Elections says the overall city total may bump up to 37% or 38%, once all the mail-in ballots are counted.

RELATED: Chicago Election 2023: Full coverage of mayoral race, city council seats and more

"Chicago municipal elections used to get a lot more turnout. This has been a very stubbornly consistent trend over last two decades, where we see this around mid-30s for city-wide turnout," said Max Bever, the Chicago Board of Elections spokesperson.

Back in the height of the Harold Washington days, turnout was close to 80%. It was a time when day-of voting was almost the only option.

Bever said turnout dropped after the municipal elections became non-partisan with runoffs but added that it's not all bad news. The normally low rate of young voters turned out in greater numbers compared to the February election.

"The biggest dramatic difference we saw was voters 18-24," Bever said. "They added 5,000 votes. That is a big percentage-point jump, especially 25-34. They added 17,000 votes."

But, it is still not enough for a mayor's race, especially when over 70% Chicago residents turn out for presidential elections.

RELATED: Meeting of the mayors: Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Brandon Johnson begin transition of power Thursday

Englewood voter Trey Lyons has a message for his non-voting neighbors.

"A lot of people like to point fingers at problems but never really want to solve the problems. In order to do that, you have to be actually part of the solution," Lyons said.

Voter fatigue also may contribute toward low turnout. Between the municipal elections and the midterms, Chicago voters have gone to the polls four different times in the past year.