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On April 4, Chicago voters will elect a new mayor, and residents in 14 wards will also vote in aldermanic runoffs. So far, early voter turnout is outpacing the previous records set in the 2019 and 2015 runoff elections, and early voter turnout in the city’s Southwest and Northwest Sides remains higher than in other wards. Whether youth voters will turn out for the runoff remains to be seen.

Early voting in the 19th and 41st wards remains the highest among the city’s 50 wards, just as it was ahead of the Feb. 28 general election. Voter turnout is lowest in the South Side’s 14th, 15th and 22nd wards, all of which hovered around 1,000 votes each as of April 2. 

Turnout was lowest for young adults aged 18 to 24, who cast just 3.23 percent of all ballots in the Feb. 28 general election. 

On Monday, April 3, Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulis, GoodKids MadCity (GKMC), Chicago Votes, The Kenwood Oakland Organization and more will host a voter registration event for young people at Leaders 1354 fashion store from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm at 1152 W. Madison St. After registering to vote, attendees will be taken to vote at a local polling place. 

“We are doing our best to encourage our peers to vote and become more civically engaged to change the conditions of our community,” wrote GKMC member Jeremiah Trask in a statement. “We believe that our vote counts and we believe that getting our peers to vote is a step towards getting our peacebook passed and implemented.”

Voting trends in South, North and West Side wards

Early voting for the April 4 runoff started on March 20 at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners supersite in the Loop and in all 50 of the city’s wards. As of April 2, voters had cast a combined total of 249,915 ballots (154,679 in-person and 95,236 by mail). That’s nearly twice as many early votes as had been cast ahead of the 2019 runoff.

As was the case in the Feb. 28 general election, turnout has been led by wards on the far Northwest and Southwest Sides. Voters in the 19th Ward, which includes Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood on the far South Side, have cast more early ballots than any other ward; as of April 2, more than 9,200 votes had been cast there. 19th Ward voters re-elected Ald. Matt O’Shea on Feb. 28 with 63 percent of the vote against two challengers, Mike Cummings and Tim Noonan. 

And in the 41st Ward, which includes Norwood Park, O’Hare Airport and parts of Jefferson Park, incumbent Ald. Anthony Napolitano won reelection and received over 70 percent of the vote against challenger Paul Struebings. As of April 2, voters had cast 7,116 early ballots in the 41st Ward.

There are also 14 aldermanic runoff races: in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 10th, 11th, 21st, 24th, 29th, 30th, 36th, 43rd, 45th, 46th and 48th Wards. Six incumbent city council members didn’t receive enough votes to avoid a runoff, while eight of the aldermanic runoff races are in wards where the sitting alderperson retired or decided not to run for reelection. 

In 2022, a record number of incumbent alders either stepped down, announced plans to retire, or launched campaigns to challenge Mayor Lori Lightfoot, which made them ineligible to run for aldermanic reelection.

Map produced by Jim Daley

In the 14th Ward, which includes Archer Heights, Brighton Park and Garfield Ridge, voters elected the first Latiné woman, Jeylú Gutiérrez, to represent the majority Latiné ward after longtime incumbent Ed Burke, who is facing federal bribery and corruption charges, stepped down in 2022 after holding the seat in city council for 54 years. Gutiérrez received 65 percent of the vote over Raul Reyes’ 35 percent on Feb. 28. As of April 2, 940 ballots have been cast in the 14th Ward. 

And in the 15th Ward, 1,019 votes had been cast by April 2. Ald. Raymond Lopez won reelection, beating two challengers, Vicko Alvarez and Gloria Williams, with 64 percent of the vote. 

In the 22nd Ward, 1,009 ballots had been cast. Ald. Michael Rodriguez won a second term in the city council, beating Kristian Armendariz and Neftalie Gonzalez. 

Among West Side wards, the 29th has the highest early voter turnout, with 3,163 votes cast by April 2. Incumbent Ald. Chris Taliaferro is in a runoff against CB Johnson. Taliaferro was just below the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff. He received 49.75 percent of the vote in the Feb. 28 runoff. 

The 21st Ward on the city’s South Side has the largest early voter turnout for the city’s Black-majority wards. As of April 2, voters had cast 3,558 early ballots.

is a multimedia reporter for The TRiiBE.