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

Early voting set new records in Chicago’s 2023 municipal election, driven by an unprecedented surge in the number of mailed-in ballots returned by February 27. Voting by mail became much more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications for mail-in ballots soared ahead of this year’s election, and the number of ballots returned far outpaced the number of votes cast ahead of the 2019 and 2015 elections. 

Ahead of Election Day, the number of in-person early votes cast and mail-in ballots returned was highest in wards on the city’s Northwest and Southwest Sides.

The number of mailed-in ballots returned ahead of this year’s February 28 election was more than double that of the previous two elections combined. As of the evening of February 27, 112,774 vote-by-mail ballots had been returned to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. In each of the two previous municipal elections, fewer than 50,000 vote-by-mail ballots were returned ahead of election day.

Citywide, a total of 244,580 in-person and mailed-in ballots had been cast by Monday evening. That number greatly exceeded both the previous elections’ early voting totals, which were 165,025 in 2019 and 113,770 in 2015. 

Across all wards, the median number of early votes cast so far was 4,635. Wards along the lakefront, on the North Side and on the far Southwest Side had cast more votes than the median, while wards on the West Side and South Side were generally below it.

Voters in the far-South Side 19th Ward, which encompasses Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood, have cast the most early ballots of any ward, at 11,676. The 41st Ward, which includes O’Hare Airport, Norwood Park and parts of Jefferson Park, was a close second, at 9,395. Residents of both wards are predominantly white and include many police officers and firefighters, who are required to live within the city limits. Both wards will likely break heavily for former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas, who is running for mayor on a law-and-order platform, was endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, and has consistently polled above 20 percent in recent weeks. 

Ahead of Election Day, early voting turnout was lowest in the 22nd Ward, which includes North Lawndale and Little Village — home to Congressman Chuy Garcia, who has fallen from the top tier in recent mayoral polls. The 14th Ward, which includes Gage Park and Archer Heights, had the second-lowest turnout. The number of early votes cast and mail-in ballots returned ahead of Election Day in the 14th and 22nd Ward was 1,649 and 1,476, respectively. 

In the 37th Ward, which includes Austin, home of Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, voters had cast 3,091 votes ahead of Election Day. Johnson, who has vaulted within striking distance of making the runoff in recent polls, will need to turn out his base significantly in order to do so. 

As of 9:00 AM on Election Day, 37,184 ballots had been cast at polling places across the city, which lagged behind the 2019 Election Day turnout at 9:00 AM, which was 94,026.  

As of 9:00 AM, the overall number of votes cast (early and on the morning of Election Day) was 280,822, representing a citywide turnout of nearly 18 percent. In the 2019 election, a total of 560,701 votes were cast, representing a turnout of 35.5 percent.

Voters can drop off mail-in ballots until 7:00 P.M. today at any of 55 locations around the city. Those who wish to vote in person can find their ward, police district, and polling location at The TRiiBE’s Election Center.

is the digital news editor for The TRiiBE.