The Crusader Newspaper Group

Voter turnout in 13 Chicago Black wards lower than the city

Voter turnout

Voter turnout was low in Chicago during the Primary election on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, but it was even worse in the city’s 18 wards and twice as low than the 2020 primary, according to a Crusader analysis of data from the Chicago Board of Elections.

The low turnout was a factor in several key races where Black challengers fell short in unseating their incumbent opponents.

The data shows that out of 549,197 registered voters in Chicago’s Black wards, only 102,509 voted on Tuesday. That is an 18.66 percent turnout compared to the city’s overall turnout, where 19.98 of 1,498,813 voters who cast their ballots during the primary. That is the lowest since 2014.

The turnout in the Black wards was more than twice as high in 2020, when 38.71 percent of 567,627 registered voters cast their ballots during the primary that was held in March of that year. There were 18,430 registered voters in the Black wards during the 2020 primary than the 2022 primary.

Unlike Tuesday’s primary, voter turnout in Black wards in 2020 was higher than the city average, with 38.71 percent of 567,627 voters in Black wards going to the polls. The city’s voter turnout during that primary was 36.37 percent.

In breaking down Tuesday’s voter turnout results in the 18 Black wards, 13 had lower turnout rate below the city. Three of those Black wards had some of the lowest voter rates among Chicago’s 50 wards. Those wards included: 16th (11 percent), 17th (10.40 percent) and 24th (10.50 percent). The 15th Ward, which is predominantly Latino, had the lowest voter turnout in the entire city, with just 8.60 percent of its 17,942 registered voters casting their ballots during the primary.

Voter turnout

In 2020, the 16th Ward, which includes parts of Englewood, Gage Park, West Englewood, and Chicago Lawn was also last in voter turnout among the Black wards, with just 24.22 percent of its 22,452 registered voters going to the polls that year.

The Black ward that saw the highest voter turnout on Tuesday was the 5th Ward, where 27.40 percent of its 27,899 went to the polls. The next highest was the 4th Ward (26.70 percent), followed by the 8th Ward (23.60 percent) and the 3rd Ward (21.50). Those wards also had the same rankings of voter turnout in the 2020 primary.

Traditionally held in the spring, this was the first time since the Great Depression that the primary was held in June. The change was because of the U.S. Census amid the pandemic. Illinois lawmakers had to wait for the census data to redraw districts for government offices. However, the change also brought hope that the warm summer days would boost voter turnout, which traditionally lags during the non-presidential elections.

Low voter turnout usually favors the incumbent and hurts the challenger. That is what happened on Tuesday when Kari Steele, president of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, lost to incumbent Fritz Kaegi for Cook County Assessor. Kaegi beat Steele by a narrow margin, taking 56.3 percent of the vote to her 46.4 percent.

In the race for the 7th Congressional District on the city’s West Side, challenger Kina Collins lost to incumbent Danny K. Davis by a narrow margin. He took 52.1 percent of the vote to her 45.5 percent. Although Collins is 31, she did not get support from millennials and voters between ages 18 and 34. Election officials said that group had the lowest voter turnout among age groups on Tuesday.

The 7th Congressional race was closely watched as Collins surprised her opponent with a strong showing on election night. The race was not called until Wednesday morning because of the small margin.

Collins is a Chicago activist, who was arrested in February for protesting the early release of former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who served just over three years in prison for fatally shooting Black teenager, Laquan McDonald, 16 times. She also protested the 2015 acquittal of Chicago police officer Dante Servin, who killed Rekia Boyd in 2012.

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