Illinois primary: Chicago voter turnout low this Election Day

While the number of ballots casted in Chicago Tuesday was steadily increasing by the hour, voter turnout was still down this primary.

As of 3 p.m., just over 220,000 ballots in the city had been counted — that included early voting and represented just 14.7 percent of citywide turnout.

At the Loop's supersite, voters say the process was been smooth and wait times were short.

Voter turnout had been picking up throughout the day, with more than 12,000 ballots casted between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the city — compared to 4,000 casted in the 6 a.m. hour when polls first opened.


Polls were expected to be even busier after work hours. They were open until 7 p.m., and as long as you were in line by that time, you could still vote.

"Looking at today's numbers, it looks like slightly older voters are driving this turnout, 55 and up. Our lowest numbers right now are the youth vote, from 18 to 24. This is a little bit of a swap of what we saw in 2020. It is somewhat in line with what we see with gubernatorial primaries, but this is why we appreciate everybody getting out the word and letting people know that every election matters and every election you should vote in," said Max Beaver, Chicago Board of Elections Director of Public Information.

"I really feel that to have our voice be heard, we have to come out and vote because that's the only way we get to have our emotions, feelings, all of those things we see — we rally in the streets but don’t really come to the polls and get our voices heard," said voter Adam Walker.

Only about 1 in 5 registered Chicago voters cast a ballot by Tuesday evening, the lowest total since 2014.

That’s according to unofficial totals released by the Chicago Board of Elections, which reported a turnout rate of about 20%.

Voter participation typically plummets in midterm primary elections between presidential contests, but figures fell precipitously with a rare mid-year election in Illinois.

The city turnout was about 33% in 2018, a rebound from the 2014 primary that saw less than 17% of registered voters cast a ballot.

That’s compared to 27% turnout for the city in the 2010 primary, and just over 32% in 2006.

Statewide turnout numbers weren’t available, but they often align with trends seen in Chicago.

Older voters were well represented in the nearly 300,000 Chicago ballots counted as of Tuesday evening. Residents in the 65-74 year-old age range cast 62,447 votes, the most of any age group, followed by the 55-64 group with 58,631 votes cast and the 75+ group with 43,380.

Only 10,760 Chicagoans between the ages of 18 and 24 cast a ballot, barely a quarter of any other group.

As for the 163,360 city residents who cast a ballot on Election Day — as opposed to a mail ballot or an early vote — the most popular time to vote was at the end of the work day. Just over 21,000 ballots were cast citywide in the 5 p.m. hour, more than any other. Another 19,718 voters made it in the final hour before polls closed at 7 p.m.

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.