Record number of Illinois voters cast ballot by mail in 2022 midterms

Record number of Illinois voters cast ballot by mail in 2022 midterms

Illinois’ 2022 general election saw the second-highest voter turnout in a midterm year of the past quarter century, with more than half of registered residents casting a ballot. Vote by mail participation increased 67% over 2018.

Over 4.14 million Illinoisans cast their ballot in the November 2022 election, the second most during a midterm year ever.

While the total was down from the 2018 record, Illinois reported the highest rate of residents voting by mail and second most voting early in the 2022 midterms. Early voting and mail ballots accounted for 39% of total votes.

State election data shows 51% of registered Illinois voters cast a ballot in the Nov. 8 gubernatorial election, down 6 percentage points from the the two-decade record participation rate seen in 2018.

Illinois voter records indicate the number of ballots cast before Nov. 8 increased largely driven by mail-in voting while total participation and in-person voting on Election Day declined.

Analysis shows 419,416 fewer Illinoisans voted with 19% fewer casting their ballot from a local polling place and 18% fewer voting early.

This decline in election participation can be partially attributed to 78 of 102 Illinois counties reporting fewer registered voters. Cook, Lake, Will, Kendall, McClean, Clinton and Winnebago Counties registered the bulk of new voters statewide, adding nearly 156,000 ballots combined.

The reduction of in-person polling options in Chicago before November also made it more difficult for residents of the state’s largest city to vote. Data shows that was counterbalanced by 67% more Illinoisans exercising their right to vote by mail in 2022.

While voter participation did not hit the 2018 record, it was likely better than it might have been with an incumbent governor seeking reelection.

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.

And Illinois voter participation could see a bump thanks to a change in state law that lets voters avoid Election Day lines and weather by doing their research and casting their votes from the comfort of their homes.

Illinoisans can now sign up to permanently receive a mail-in ballot for future elections, ensuring busy lives don’t get in the way of voting. More information on how to vote by mail in 2023 can be found here.

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