By Anne Arntson and Jia You
Preliminary turnout for the Chicago mayoral election was 28 percent of registered voters as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, including early voting and absentee ballots that came in through Saturday.
Dick Simpson, a political science professor at University of Illinois at Chicago, and a former alderman, said he believed voter turnout would be higher for the runoff election than February’s election.
“It’s a more focused choice,” Simpson said. “The voters think that the outcome is important for the city.”
Early voting for the runoff election was 50 percent higher than February’s election, in which there were less than 90,000 early votes.
According to the Chicago Board of Elections, there are about 1.4 million registered voters, and about than 480,000 of them voted in the February election.
Based on the turnout as of 4 p.m. on Tuesday, about 300,000 votes have been cast at that point, including early votes.
[field name=”early vote”]
Simpson said both candidates Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia focused on locking in support through early votes. He added that more Chicago residents were voting early because they will be out of town during spring break.
In the February election, Emanuel captured 46 percent of the vote, and Garcia brought in 34 percent. With neither capturing a majority, a runoff was required to determine the winner. Leading up to the runoff election, both candidates have worked diligently to garner new support.
“The Garcia campaign has the better ground game or precinct work, but it is not certain if that will be enough to win,” Simpson said.
At a kick-off rally for Garcia’s campaign volunteers in West Town on Tuesday, the candidate was asked whether he was most concerned about support for Emanuel or low-voter turnout. Garcia said, “The people who concern me most are the people that we identified as voters who are sympathetic to us and we are reaching out to them, we are knocking on their doors, we’re giving them calls, we’re engaging them, be it social media, if we get them out we win, it’s as simple as that.”
Throughout the day, people took to social media to complain about low-voter turnout at the polls.
— Lou Barlow (@errollouisfnta) April 7, 2015
Voted today for mayor and alderman. Was disappointed to hear that I was only the 52nd person at my polling place #ChicagoElection2015
— Meredith Baskies (@MeredithBaskies) April 7, 2015
— Aaron Cynic (@aaroncynic) April 7, 2015
Additional reporting by Christina Bucciere and Adriana Cargill