Chicago election results: High number of mail-in ballots could delay results for days

ByChuck Goudie and Barb Markoff, Christine Tressel and Ross Weidner WLS logo
Wednesday, March 1, 2023
High number of mail-in ballots could delay Chicago election results
The wild card in the Chicago mayor election is the number of outstanding mail ballots: about 100,000 have yet to be returned by mail.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Pollwatchers say things have been slower than usual in Chicago on this Election Day, but that may be due to a surge in voters choosing to mail in their ballots - which could lead to a dayslong delay in learning who makes the runoff.

But as is customary, there has been an uptick in voter turnout throughout the afternoon. While this will not go down in history as the worst turnout in a mayoral election in Chicago, the headline might be that older voters carried the day.

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When the polls closed at 7 p.m., voter turnout across the city stood at 32.1%, with the heaviest turnout on the city's Northwest and Southwest sides.

Officials said turnout on Election Day has been sluggish compared to 2019, with about 8,000 fewer votes each hour.

The majority of voters are older than 45 years old, with a 1/3 of all votes cast so far by people in their 60s and 70s. That alone could end up favoring one candidate or another.

The wild card this year - more wild than ever - is the number of outstanding mail ballots: about 100,000 have yet to be returned by mail, meaning they won't be counted until Wednesday and beyond. But whatever the actual number ends up being for mail-in ballots, not all will be returned.

There were no major problems to report so far at polling places across the city. There was a complaint of rude behavior in the 13th Precinct of the 5th Ward against an election judge, but was not deemed serious enough to have the judge removed.

There was also an oddity by Chicago standards: no election judges anywhere in the city were so drunk that they needed to be sent home.

While there were 14 polling places in the city that opened late Tuesday morning, those will not have to stay open late.