Visit The TRiiBE Election Center to learn more about the upcoming 2023 Chicago municipal election. Click here to find your Chicago ward and police district.

Update Feb. 22, 2023: The Board of Election Commissioners has ruled that 28th Ward aldermanic candidate Shawn A. Walker will added back onto the ballot. Walker had been removed following a challenge to his ballot petition signatures. The Board had halted early voting in the 28th Ward on Feb. 17 when the Illinois Appellate Court ruled Walker had enough signatures to be on the ballot. 352 votes had been cast in the 28th Ward when voting was halted.

With a little more than a week to go until Election Day on Feb. 28, early voting in Chicago is highest in the 19th and 41st Wards in the city’s far southwest and northwest corners, respectively, and lowest in the 5th Ward on the South Side and the 28th Ward on the West Side.

Early voting began at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners supersite in the Loop on Jan. 26, and in all 50 wards on Feb. 13. Citywide, early voting has already broken records. As of Feb. 15, voters had cast a combined 75,284 ballots (23,833 in person and 51,569 by mail). That’s about four times as many as the number of early votes that had been cast at this point in either the 2015 or the 2019 municipal elections.

High turnout can be an indicator of extreme polarization, and nationally early voting has favored Democrats. What that means for a municipal election is unclear, but in the wards where early turnout is highest citywide, races are contested, particularly those for Police District Councils

In the 19th Ward, which includes Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood on the city’s far South Side, incumbent Ald. Matt O’Shea is running against two challengers, retired CPD sergeant Mike Cummings and resident Tim Noonan. The 19th currently has the highest turnout of any ward, at 3,611 votes cast.

Two candidates for Police District Councils (PDCs) in the 22nd District, which encompasses much of the 19th Ward on the Southwest Side, are endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP): ex-cop Lee Bielecki and Mount Greenwood resident Patrick Kennedy. There are three other candidates in the 22nd District: Matthew Biancotto, a resident of Mount Greenwood who has expressed support for police, Carisa Parker, an LSC member and mother of a CPD officer, and Andre Pate, a pro-accountability candidate.  

In the 41st Ward, which includes Norwood Park, O’Hare Airport and parts of Jefferson Park, attorney Paul Struebing is challenging two-term incumbent Ald. Anthony Napolitano. The 41st is second in total votes cast, at 2,952. Both the 19th and 41st wards are predominately white and home to many police and city workers. 

The ballot for PDC members in the 16th District, which covers much of the 41st Ward on the Northwest Side, has seven candidates. None are pro-accountability, and three (Colleen Mary Dillon, Daniel Martin, and John Marcatante) are endorsed by the FOP.

Just south of the 16th District, the race for the 25th District PDC is split between a slate of three pro-accountability candidates who support more police accountability (Jacob Arena, Saul Arellano and Angelica Green) and two who are endorsed by the FOP, Perry Abbasi and Edgar Esparza.

In West Side wards, turnout has been variable. In the 29th Ward, which includes parts of Austin, voters have cast 1,553 votes. That’s just a few shy of the median turnout for all wards, which is 1,561. Incumbent Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th Ward), faces two challengers, CB Johnson and Corey Dooley. 

In the 22nd Ward, which includes much of Little Village and where incumbent Ald. Mike Rodriguez also faces two challengers (Neftalie Gonzalez and Kristian Armendariz), just 492 ballots had been cast as of Feb. 15.

In the 28th Ward, which includes much of Garfield Park, early voting is the lowest citywide. Incumbent Ald. Jason Ervin is running unopposed, but the races for 11th and 12th Police Districts (which the 28th Ward meanders across) are contested.

The highest turnout the West Side has ever seen was in the 1983 municipal election that brought Harold Washington to office. Harold won just 22 out of 28 wards, but eked out a victory largely on the strength of overwhelming turnout by Black voters. Citywide, turnout in the 1983 election was 82 percent. White voters came out in numbers, and the overwhelming majority of them crossed party lines to vote for Bernie Epton, a Republican who ran an openly racist campaign against Harold. In wards like the 38th — the scene of the infamous St. Pascal’s incident, in which a white mob drove Harold and his surrogates away during the election — turnout was 87 percent, and Epton took 94 percent of the vote. 

In West Side wards such as the 24th, 28th and 29th, turnout in 1983 was 81 percent, 79 percent, and 80 percent, respectively. Harold won those wards by a landslide, taking 99 percent of votes in the 24th and 28th wards and 93 percent in the 29th. Harold also carried much of the South Side, taking 99 percent of the vote in then-Ald. Eugene Sawyer’s Sixth Ward and 93 percent of then-Ald. Tim Evan’s Fourth Ward. The overwhelming turnout of Black voters, along with coalition Latine and liberal white voters, gave Harold enough to break the white machine’s stranglehold on City Hall.


Since 1983, ward boundaries have been redrawn several times, most recently in May of 2022. The latest redrawing resulted in 16 majority-Black wards. The 2023 municipal election could see the highest turnover in the City Council, with 16 alders retiring and just 11 alders running unopposed.

Correction Feb. 17, 2023: This article previously stated five alders were running unopposed; the number is 11.

is the digital news editor for The TRiiBE.