Only 1 in 5 Chicago voters cast ballots in primary, an 8-year low

About 20% of registered Chicago voters had turned out by Tuesday evening, an unofficial total that would mark the lowest rate for the city since 2014.

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A resident votes at Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School in the Humboldt Park neighborhood during the 2022 Illinois primary election, Tuesday morning, June 28, 2022.

A resident votes at Harriet Beecher Stowe Elementary School in the Humboldt Park neighborhood during the 2022 Illinois primary election, Tuesday morning, June 28, 2022.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The sun was up when Chicago polls closed Tuesday — but voter turnout was not.

With the state’s first summertime primary election in decades — pushed back three months due to the delayed release of U.S. Census figures used to define voting districts — only about 1 in 5 registered Chicago voters cast a ballot by Tuesday evening, the lowest total since 2014.

That’s according to unofficial totals released by the Chicago Board of Elections, which reported a turnout rate of about 20%.

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Voter participation typically plummets in midterm primary elections between presidential contests, but figures fell precipitously with a rare mid-year election in Illinois.

The city turnout was about 33% in 2018, a rebound from the 2014 primary that saw less than 17% of registered voters cast a ballot.

That’s compared to 27% turnout for the city in the 2010 primary, and just over 32% in 2006.

Statewide turnout numbers weren’t available, but they often align with trends seen in Chicago.

Older voters were well represented in the nearly 300,000 Chicago ballots counted as of Tuesday evening. Residents in the 65-74 year-old age range cast 62,447 votes, the most of any age group, followed by the 55-64 group with 58,631 votes cast and the 75+ group with 43,380.

Only 10,760 Chicagoans between the ages of 18 and 24 cast a ballot, barely a quarter of any other group.

As for the 163,360 city residents who cast a ballot on Election Day — as opposed to a mail ballot or an early vote — the most popular time to vote was at the end of the work day. Just over 21,000 ballots were cast citywide in the 5 p.m. hour, more than any other. Another 19,718 voters made it in the final hour before polls closed at 7 p.m.

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