The Crusader Newspaper Group

Turnout in Black wards in Primary election sink to a record low

Voter turnout for a Democratic Primary in a presidential election year in Chicago’s Black wards was the lowest in at least 20 years, according to the latest data from the Chicago Board of Elections.

Data released Wednesday, March 20 show citywide turn out in Chicago’s 50 wards was just 19.69 percent.

In Chicago’s 17 Black wards, the turnout was even less at 18.56 percent. There is concern that many Black voters stayed home from the polls, growing dissatisfied with the presidential race and the failed Bring Chicago Home referendum for the city’s homeless population.

But during Early Voting, several Black wards had unusually high turnout rates that pointed to a more promising election day turnout. They include the 18th and 21st Wards, which had the fourth and fifth highest voter turnout rates in the city.

In the 18th Ward, 3,680 people or more than a third of the 7,299 votes that were counted were cast during Early Voting. In the 21st Ward, 2,650 voters cast their ballots during Early Voting and 6,142 residents in that ward voted on election day.

According to a Crusader analysis of election data records, Tuesday’s low Black voter turnout was the lowest since the Democratic Primary election in 2014, some eight months before the Midterm elections.

That year, voter turnout in the Black wards in March 2014 was just 15.5 percent. But Tuesday’s abysmal 18.56 percent Black voter turnout is the lowest percentage in any Democratic Primary during a presidential election year at least since 2004, election data show.

Voters expressed a lack of interest that year, in the presidential race between Republican President Geroge W. Bush and Democratic Senator John Kerry. Kerry won Chicago and Illinois, but lost to Bush.

Of the 17 Black wards in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary, seven had a voter turnout rate lower than 18.56 percent.

They include the 16th Ward (12.59 percent), 17th Ward (16.13 percent), 20th Ward (15.40 percent), 24th Ward (13.91 percent), 27th Ward (14.82 percent), 28th (12.49 percent), 29th (18.32 percent) and the 37th Ward (12.72 percent).

Preliminary figures among age groups, voters between ages 65 to 74 had the highest turnout rate with 23.25 percent going to the polls. The age group with the second highest voter turnout was voters who were 55 to 64 years old. Senior citizens older than age 75 had the third highest voter turnout at 17.15 percent.

The lowest turnout rate came from millennials 17 to 25 years old. That group had a turnout rate of just 2.9 percent. Millennials 35 to 44 years old had a turnout rate of 12.99.

The numbers are fueling concern for President Joe Biden, whose reelection campaign is not generating any interest or excitement among Black Democratic voters. Many have grown dissatisfied with his leadership and his handling of the migrant crisis.

Blacks have also grown disenchanted with the Democratic Party over the years as many voters feel the political party’s agenda does not represent their interests; the political establishment remains accused of being out of touch with Black America.

Of the 17 Black wards during the Democratic Primary, the 28th Ward had the lowest voter turnout with just 12.49 percent of the ward’s 27,327 voters going to the polls.

The low turnout in that ward came despite the heated U.S. Congressional 7th District race involving City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin, whose husband is 28th Ward Alderman Jason Ervin.

The Congressional race involving Conyears-Ervin was one of the most closely watched races and was expected to generate a high turnout rate in that Black ward, part of the 7th District. Veteran Congressman Danny K. Davis won the heated race against Conyears-Ervin, and activist Kina Collins.

The 7th Congressional District also includes the 29th and 37th Wards. Both wards had very low voter turnout. In the 29th Ward, only 5,826 voters of the 31,806 registered voters went to the polls. In the 37th Ward, the turnout was even lower. Just 3,680 voters of that ward’s 28,939 registered voters cast their ballots in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary.

Early Wednesday, there reportedly were 110,000 outstanding vote-by-mail ballots that have not been returned.

Of the voters casting ballots, the vast majority have been 55 years of age or older, accounting for approximately 55 percent of the votes counted by Tuesday night.


Recent News

Scroll to Top