Over 102K more Chicagoans voted by mail than 4 years earlier

Over 102K more Chicagoans voted by mail than 4 years earlier

While total Chicago voter turnout hit a high April 4, in-person voting on Election Day reached the lowest level in Chicago mayoral runoff history. Most Chicagoans voting did so early or by mail.

Over 102,000 more Chicagoans cast their ballot by mail in the April 4 mayoral election between Brandon Johnson and Paul Vallas than during the prior mayoral runoff in 2019, city election data shows.

An Illinois Policy Institute analysis of voting trends showed most Chicagoans decided to vote by mail or before Election Day. Mail votes were sent by 26% of registered voters and another 30% voted in person before Election Day.

Just 34% of voters cast their ballots early or by mail in the 2019 runoff between now Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle. In that runoff, just over 10% of voters cast their ballots by mail and 23% voted early.

The in-person, Election Day share of votes dropped from 66% in the 2019 Chicago mayoral runoff to 44% in the most recent election. There were 79,605 fewer voters casting their ballots in person on this Election Day.

Voter trends continued to show a progressive decline in the number of Chicagoans going to the polls on Election Day seen in the preceding mayoral runoffs. In-person Election Day 2023 turnout represented the smallest share of votes since the city’s first mayoral runoff in 2015.   

Total turnout increased this year, with 38.6% of registered residents voting in the mayoral race compared to just 33.1% in 2019. The number of overall ballots cast in the April 4 runoff was the highest reported in a Chicago municipal election in nearly a quarter century.

The city election data also showed which voting method was preferred by Johnson’s and Vallas’ supporters.

Johnson received a majority of votes among residents who cast their ballot by mail and on Election Day, winning 52.9% of mail-in votes and 54.7% of in-person votes on Election Day.

Vallas garnered the most support among early voters, earning 52.3% of those votes.

Johnson ultimately won the race with about 52% of the vote.

Turnout by voting method also varied between the Feb. 28 primary and April 4 elections with more Chicagoans coming out to vote in the runoff. A greater share of runoff voters cast their ballot in-person and early. Fewer voted by mail than during the primary.

Johnson is a Cook County commissioner and Chicago Teachers Union lobbyist who received heavy financial and campaign support from teachers’ unions. He will assume Chicago’s top office May 15.

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