'Shockingly low' turnout for Illinois 2024 primary; Trump, Biden win nominations

Races include Cook County state's attorney, Bring Chicago Home referendum

Wednesday, March 20, 2024
No major issues during 2024 primary election amid low turnout
There were no major issues during the 2024 Illinois primary election, besides low turnout.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- It's Election Day for the Illinois primary, and turnout Tuesday appears to be "shockingly low."

The Cook County state's attorney primary race has turned into the tightest contest on the ballot Tuesday night, with candidates Clayton Harris III and Eileen O'Neill Burke running nearly neck-and-neck.

Better Government Association President David Greising and ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington weighed in.

Voters saw numerous races on the ballot aside from the presidential primary, as Donald Trump and Joe Biden have essentially clinched those nominations.

The Associated Press projected President Joe Biden as the winner of the Illinois Democratic presidential primary and former President Donald Trump as the winner of the Republican presidential primary.

Earlier Tuesday, voters filed into the Loop Super Site to cast their ballots in the Illinois primary.

"Me and my coworkers all coordinated to come down early before work just to get it done," voter Shondra Edwards said.

As the day went on, there was a steady flow of people heading to the Oak Park Library to vote, and some South Siders were among those casting their ballots at a Bronzeville polling place, despite predicted low turnout.

"I wanted to make sure the candidates are on the ballot in November, also," voter Lawrence Fleming said.

"Black and brown people need to work with their children to get them to understand everything we went through to get the vote," voter Cindy Fleming said.

Here's what the 2024 Illinois primary means for Latinos.

Some say they were driven to make sure their vote counted in light of recent Supreme Court rulings.

CLICK HERE to see live Illinois primary election results

"It's important that your voice is heard, and I know a lot of people don't think voting does enough, but elections have consequences," voter Richard Mertz said.

"Our voting rights are important. They are under attack," voter Guitar Jim said.

About an hour before the polls closed, there was quite a line outside the Super Site.

Key races to watch for in Illinois primary

ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington breaks down some of the key races in the Illinois Primary.

There are several races that are hotly contested, including for Congress, in the state House and Senate.

Sean Casten won the Democratic nomination for U.S. House in Illinois' 6th Congressional District.

Sean Casten won the Democratic nomination for the 6th District while Bill Foster won the Democratic nomination for the 11th District.

Bill Foster won the Democratic nomination for U.S. House in Illinois' 11th Congressional District.

Justice Joy Cunningham declared victory over Jesse Reyes to replace former Chief Justice Ann Burke on the Illinois Supreme Court.

One of the more closely watched races is for Cook County state's attorney.

RELATED: Democratic Cook County state's attorney candidates making final Election Day push

Two Democrats are vying for that nomination.

"Obviously, crime is a huge issue, and I know that there's a lot of factors on both sides, saying what to do with it," voter Matthew Krecun said. "I think this election may change the direction of the city and one way or the other."

Also on the ballot is Mayor Brandon Johnson's controversial "Bring Chicago Home" referendum, asking voters to increase the sales tax on million-dollar properties to help fight homelessness.

"A binding citywide referendum is very rare in our city's history," Marisel Hernandez, Chicago Board of Elections Commissioners chairwoman. "It's only happened to handful of times. So no matter what, we urge you to come out and be part of history tonight."

Supporters spent Monday making calls, sending texts and trying to get people to the polls.

"I think it's important to help people who are unhoused to get into housing, get off the streets and improve their lives, and that costs money, whether we like it or not," voter Matthew Casen said. "So I think it's important enough to give a couple more dollars for every year."

Critics say the referendum will have unintended consequences.

"I feel there's a lot of different things changing in the neighborhood, so I just wanted to make sure I cast my vote just so I have some input in what's happening," voter Krystle Chandler said.

What will turnout be in Illinois primary election?

Though the Illinois Board of Elections predicts we'll see the lowest voter turnout in a presidential primary in 12 years, people still wanted their voice heard.

"I just knew I needed to get here today, so I just did it," voter Toya Faulkner said.

The Board of Elections said good weather may have sparked a small surge in the number of voters at the polls.

"Sure wish I had some better news taking a look at the numbers for the first few hours of Election Day. But it sure looks like we're looking at a shockingly low turnout for Election Day," said Max Bever, with the Board of Elections.

As of 7 p.m., the Board of Elections said the city had just over 20% turnout.

That means some close-call races may take a couple weeks to call: until all the mail-in ballots arrive. And city officials say they saw this one coming.

In suburban Cook County, turnout was just over 15%, and may not hit 20%.

Although primary elections don't usually garner high voter turnout, some heading to the polls Tuesday said the right to vote has never been more important.

"I think it's very important to vote. Whether you vote red or whether you vote blue, vote, especially if you are Black. People died for that," voter Michael said.

The Board of Elections said so far, the majority of voters casting their ballots were 55 and older.

Young voters did not appear to turn out, which means a very small portion of voters are making some very big decisions.

Chicago Board of Elections officials said 176,649 total early voting and vote-by-mail ballots were cast.