Chicago Mayoral Election 2023

Why Chicago's Mayoral Election May Not be Decided Tuesday

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

The Chicago mayoral election could be one of the most tightly-contested races in recent memory, and officials say that it may take longer than Tuesday night to determine the top-two finishers in the race.

According to the Chicago Board of Elections, more than 200,000 mail-in ballot applications have been received so far during the election season, but more than 100,000 ballots have yet to be turned in as Election Day nears on Tuesday.

As long as ballots are postmarked by Feb. 28, and as long as they are received by the CBOE by March 14, then they can be counted, and in a nine-way race, every single ballot will be of critical importance.

Ballots that are received by Monday night, whether submitted at early voting facilities or received via the mail, will be included in the initial count on Tuesday night according to CBOE officials, meaning that tabulators can get a head start on compiling the results for the election.

In addition to the number of outstanding mail-in ballots, there is also the prospect of a recount if the results are tight. Under Chicago law, if a mayoral candidate finishes within 5% of second place in the Feb. 28 election, they could request a recount of ballots, which could cause the process to last even longer.

The certification of election results does not have to occur until March 21, just two weeks before the runoff on April 4.

Polling data does show that former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas has an edge in the run-up to Election Day, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Cook County Board Commissioner Brandon Johnson, Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and philanthropist Willie Wilson could all potentially figure into the race for the top two spots next week.

As of Sunday night, there have been 102,071 vote-by-mail ballots returned to the CBOE. The total number of mail-in ballots requested so far is 214,183, per officials.

In all, 211,110 ballots have been cast in the election so far, nearly half of the 560,701 ballots that were cast during the entire Feb. 2019 election, according to CBOE officials.

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