Feb 28, 2023 - Politics

Early voting surged in Chicago's 2023 election

Chicago Board of Elections. Axios visuals.
Chicago Board of Elections. Axios visuals.

Chicagoans have voted early in droves this year, casting more than three times as many early mail-in votes as in the 2019 election.

  • Voters also beat 2019's early in-person voting by almost 1,000 votes.

Why it matters: Early voting data can offer clues about electoral trends. And this data portends high overall turnout in largely white, lakefront wards, as well as Northwest and Southwest Side neighborhoods occupied heavily by city workers.

By the numbers: Chicago officials have registered a total of 244,580 early votes this year, as opposed to 165,025 counted the day before the election in 2019.

  • This year's early votes already total more than a third (44%) of all ballots cast in 2019.

What's more: Early voting was dominated by older voters β€” with more than 73% of all early votes coming from people 55 and older as of Monday morning.

The intrigue: With so many voters (214,183) opting for mail-in ballots this year and only about half returned so far, we could be waiting for days and even weeks for full results.

  • Mail-in votes will be counted, as long as they are postmarked by today.

What they're saying: "Delayed results are a sincere possibility β€” for the citywide mayoral race, but especially for the ward alderperson races, which sometimes come down to double-digit or even single-digit votes," Chicago Board of Elections spokesperson Max Bever tells Axios.

  • "If races are very close, it’s likely that the campaigns will wait to concede until perhaps the weekend," he says.

Be smart: The Board of Elections has until March 14 to count all provisional and properly postmarked mail-in ballots. And election officials expect to issue their Official Proclamation of Results by March 15 or 16.

The bottom line: Tight races and the popularity of mail-in ballots this year could leave results unsettled for a while.


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