The Crusader Newspaper Group

Voter turnout plummets in Black Wards after record high in 2018

Voter turnout in Chicago’s Black wards dropped significantly in the midterm elections, Tuesday, November 8, after a record high turnout in the 2018 midterm election, according to a Crusader analysis of data from the Chicago Board of Elections.

Overall voter turnout among Chicago’s 1.5 million registered voters on Tuesday was just 41.3 percent, compared to 60.67 percent in the 2018 midterm election. In Black wards that year, voter turnout was 57.51 percent.

But voter turnout Tuesday, November 8, in Chicago’s Black wards was even lower. Election data show that out of the city’s 17 Black wards, only 36 percent or 573,514 registered voters cast ballots on Tuesday. Voter turnout in Black wards was even lower than during the 2014 midterms election, where turnout was 49.56 percent, higher than the city’s overall turnout of 48.81 percent.

In Tuesday’s election, 11 Black wards experienced voter turnout that was within 30 percentage points. The 16th and 37th Wards had the lowest voter turnout with 25.13 percent and 27.45 percent, respectively. The 16th Ward, representing the neighborhoods of Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Gage Park, New City and West Englewood, historically has the lowest turnout than any of Chicago’s Black wards.

In Tuesday’s election, none of the Black wards experienced a higher voter turnout than in 2018, when Democrats wrestled control of the U.S. House from the Republicans under President Donald Trump.

Five Black wards saw a voter turnout of over 40 percent. The 4th and 5th Wards, which include active voters in Hyde Park, had the two highest voter turnouts among Black wards, with 47.61 percent and 43.71 percent, respectively.

The 34th Ward which, since the wards have been remapped, will move to the North Side next year, had the third highest voter turnout with 42.89 percent. The 3rd and 8th Wards rounded out the top five.

Unlike past elections during the Harold Washington era, there were little-to-no “get out the vote” rallies in Chicago. Governor JB Pritzker and Vice President Kamala Harris held a rally at the XS Tennis Center in Washington Park to galvanize Black voters two days before Election Day.

Before Election Day, 90 percent of registered voters in Black wards had not cast their ballots during Early Voting.

A Crusader analysis of election data showed that the overall voter turnout in the 18 Black wards was just 9.7 percent. In 2018, about 14.3 percent of registered voters in Black wards had voted during Early Voting.

During Early Voting, the 4th and 18th Wards had the highest voter turnout with 13 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively. The 27th and 34th Wards had the lowest turnout with 7.3 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively.

On Election Day there was concern that many relocated precincts, redrawn because of redistricting, would confuse voters and impact voter turnout.

In South Shore, the 40th Precinct at the Jackson Park Field House was moved to an event space facility on 71st Street. From 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. on Election Day, a Crusader inquiry revealed just nine people voted there, compared to 25 people at the YMCA at 63rd and Stony Island, which was kept open for the elections after it served as an Early Voting Site.

In the Illinois Primary election last June, voter turnout in Black wards was near the city average of 20.40 percent.

After the polls closed Tuesday, the Chicago Board of Elections on Tuesday evening released election data by age groups. The group that had the highest turnout was voters aged between 55 to 64, who cast 116,900 ballots. The age group with the lowest voter turnout was young voters aged 18 to 24, which cast a total of 30,443 ballots.

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