Chicago Mayoral Election 2023

Early Voter Turnout For 2023 Election is ‘Highest Ever Seen For A Municipal Election,' Chicago Board of Elections Says

Polls opened at 6 a.m. on Feb. 28

Historically, the majority of Chicago voters often wait until Election Day to head to the polls.

And while the same may be true for the 2023 Chicago Municipal Election, early voting and vote-by-mail numbers so far are strong, election officials say.

"Early voting turnout has steadily been on the rise over the last few weeks," said Marisel Hernandez, Chicago Board of Elections chairwoman, said during a 6 a.m. press conference Tuesday. "We have received the highest amount of pre-election voting we have ever seen for a municipal election."

According to CBOE data, early vote totals recorded through Monday evening clocked in at 244,580 ballots cast. Of those, 131,806 were through early voting, and 112,774 were from vote-by-mail ballots.

MORE: Election Day Arrives in Chicago With Much Uncertainty Over Who Will Be the Next Mayor

However, with the total number of vote-by-mail applications at 213,617, more than 100,000 mail-in ballots are currently outstanding.

"Over 100,000 vote-by-mail ballots haven't been returned," Hernandez said. "We expect the majority of these ballots to come back today and in the next three to four days."

Hernandez added that any ballots post-marked by Feb. 28 and received in the next two weeks "will be processed and counted."

How 2023 Early Voter Turnout Compares to Previous Years

According to CBOE data, the early voter turnout numbers stand in stark contrast from previous municipal elections.

In 2019, one day out from the Feb. 25 municipal election, 165,025 early ballots had been cast.

For the municipal election in 2015, that number was even lower, at 113,770.

However, the majority of Chicago voters have chosen to cast their ballots on Election Day. In 2019, the total voter turnout was 35.45%. In 2015, the total turnout was 34.03%.

In 2011, that number was higher at 42.30%.

Currently, total voter turnout stands at 17.8%.

According to the Board, there are currently 1,581,564 registered voters in Chicago.

Voter Breakdown by Age Group and Ward

CBOE reports that voters between the ages of 55 and 74 years old are driving totals.

Chicago's 19th Ward, which includes Beverly, Morgan Park, Kennedy Park and Mt. Greenwood, has the highest in-person early voter turn out so far, with 7,701 early ballots cast, data from the Board show.

When Will Mail-In Ballots, Early Voting Be Counted?

According to election officials, all early ballots cast and all vote-by-mail ballots received on or before Monday "will be included in Election Night results" as they roll in, beginning around 7:15 p.m. Tuesday.

"All Outstanding Vote By Mail Ballots received on Election Day (through Dropbox and through USPS) will not be counted by or reflected in the Election Night Results," the CBOE says.

"All Vote By Mail Ballots properly postmarked by Feb. 28th arriving through the mail will be processed and counted on a rolling basis through March 14th. The Unofficial Election Results will be continually updated on a rolling basis as these ballots arrive, and as all Provisional Ballots counted," an email from Election officials says.

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.

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