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Data show voter turnout low in Black wards and Chicago

Voter turnout

With one week left for the June 28 Primary, voter turnout is extremely low across Chicago, including the city’s 18 Black wards, according to the Chicago Board of Elections, which released data from Early Voting as of June 15.

According to 2020 election data, Chicago has over 1.5 million registered voters, but only 7,757 have voted so far, or less than a tenth of a percentage point.

In Chicago’s 18 Black wards where there are 580,454 registered voters, only 3,460 have cast their ballots, the highest of the city’s three largest ethnic groups. Chicago’s 13 Latino wards had the lowest turnout as of June 15 with just 1,115 ballots cast out of 329,385 voters.

Even in Alderman Brendan Reilly’s 42nd Ward, which has the highest number of registered voters among the 50 wards, only 281 ballots had been cast as of June 15, election data show.

In 2021, Illinois lawmakers voted to move to the Democratic Primary from spring to summer to boost voter turnout after the pandemic kept many voters away during the 2020 Democratic Primary. So far, the move hasn’t proven effective as many residents focus on celebrating the Juneteenth and Fourth of July holidays. The June 28 Primary is wedged between the two holidays and has drawn concerns that voters may be too preoccupied with summer events and celebrations more than taking a trip to the polls.

In Chicago’s 18 Black wards, the 34th Ward had the highest voter turnout percentage (.0076), followed by the 4th Ward (.0075). The third highest voter turnout was in the 5th and 24th Wards, where .0073 percent of voters cast their ballots during Early Voting.

On June 13, Early Voting in Chicago expanded to all 50 wards and Cook County.

Residents should have received their voter registration cards and mail-in ballots, as political candidates step up their campaigns in the final two weeks of the Primary election.

Voters are casting their ballots to decide several local, state and Congressional races.

Former Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin seeks to unseat Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Cook County Tax Assessor Fritz Kaegi faces Democratic challenger Kari Steele, president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD). Alderman David Moore (17th) seeks to replace outgoing Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, but he faces City Clerk Anna Valencia and Alexi Giannoulias. In the race for Illinois’ 1st Congressional District, 20 candidates seek the Democrat nomination to replace longtime Congressman Bobby Rush.

In the Democratic race for U.S. Senator, incumbent Tammy Duckworth is running unopposed as she seeks a second term. Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough are also running unopposed.

There are also many judicial races that involve judges seeking retention.

Chicago election officials have not found new voting sites after announcing that 73 precincts will not be available before the June 28 Primary. Approximately 120,000 voters are affected by the shortage. Election officials said that since the pandemic, numerous buildings and restaurants have decided not to serve again as polling sites because of the hassle of operating one.

Chicago has more than 2,000 precincts spread across 50 wards.

In Chicago’s 18 Black wards, a total of 8 precincts will not be available by election day. The largest unavailable precinct is in Alderman Pat Dowell’s 3rd Ward. That is Precinct 25 in the South Loop, which is the third largest of 41 polling places with nearly 1,500 registered voters.

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