2022 midterms show mail voting spreads rapidly across Illinois

2022 midterms show mail voting spreads rapidly across Illinois

Over 742,000 Illinoisans voted by mail in November, 67% more than the previous midterm. While many Northern Illinois counties saw record voter participation, Cook County reported its lowest turnout in 25 years.

More than 742,000 Illinoisans voted by mail in the November 2022 election, the most ever during a midterm year.

State election data shows 96 of 102 Illinois counties reported increased mail-in voting in 2022 over the previous midterm, with 297,357 more residents casting their ballots remotely.

Statewide, over 4.14 million Illinoisans voted in November, the second most during a midterm year since 1998. County data offers some insight into how voter trends developed by region.

Illinois Policy worked to make the Nov. 8 election more competitive by recruiting 32 candidates to run in uncontested Illinois House districts, some of which had not seen a challenger in decades. The intent was to boost voter turnout because research shows more competitive elections increase voter participation, with contested races drawing 7% more voters to the polls.

While vote-by-mail participation increased 67% statewide over the past midterm, Illinois saw fewer residents voting early in-person and on Election Day than four years ago.

Election data also shows Democrats at the top of the ticket have made significant gains in Cook and collar counties during the past 20 years, while losing a growing share of the vote in Southern Illinois. Northern counties, excluding Cook and the collar counties, tended slightly more Republican during that time.

All four of these regions reported fewer ballots cast than the 2018 midterm. Southern Illinois saw more voter participation than Cook County for the first time since 1998.

Cook County recorded the least voter participation in a quarter century at 45.7%. Northern Illinois saw the highest midterm turnout at 56.2%.

The reduction of in-person polling options statewide before November likely contributed to the decline in voter participation, particularly in Cook County where more locations were closed.

One change that could reverse that is Illinoisans can now sign up to permanently receive a mail-in ballot for future elections, enabling them to cast their vote from the comfort of their own home.

More information on how to vote by mail in 2023 can be found here.

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