Record-low voter turnout in Chicago, suburban Cook County

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Voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary election hit a record low in Chicago and suburban Cook County, officials said.

The record low 15.7 percent turnout this year in suburban Cook County beat the previous low-turnout record set in 1998, when only 23.9 percent of voters went to the polls in the suburbs, according to data released Wednesday by Cook County Clerk David Orr.  

Election officials point to two factors for the low turnout, said Courtney Greve, a spokeswoman for Orr.In the suburbs there were few high-profile democratic primary races, Greve said.  And in an overwhelmingly Democratic County, the big battle was in the Republican gubernatorial primary between Bruce Rauner and Kirk Dillard, officials said. As it was, 55 percent of voters pulled a Republican ballot, according to Orr’s office. 

“Cook County is a primarily Democratic county and there were no real contests at the top of the ticket on the democrat side,” said Greve.

But it wasn’t just the low turnout that set a record. During Orr’s more than 20 years in office, voters have never voted overwhelmingly Republican during a midterm primary election, Greve said.

In Chicago, voter turnout wasn’t much better, with about 16.1 percent of registered voters casting ballots — a “record low” for a primary, said James Allen, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. Unlike the suburbs, however, 177,435 Democratic ballots were cast – dwarfing the 41,648 Republican ballots cast in the city. 

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