Rewinding to Election Day at eleven Chicago polling sites

A line outside of the United Center arena in the West Loop neighborhood
On Election Day, lines wrapped around the United Center arena, which opened as a voting super site for the first time in the West Loop neighborhood. (Grace Rodgers//MEDILL)

By Caroline Catherman & Grace Rodgers
Medill Reports

Illinois voted blue this year, just as it has every other year since 1992. The 2020 presidential election brought an unprecedented number of registered voters to cast ballots in the state. Early voting and absentee voting became much more popular, and several polling administrators reported seeing more youth voters than ever before.

But let’s rewind to before Joe Biden became the U.S. president-elect. Let’s get a glimpse of the atmosphere on Election Day and hear from poll workers, first-time voters, and election defenders about what made Nov. 3 unparalleled.

We spent the day driving to eleven different polling places across Chicago to talk to everyday people about this historic election. 

Some were majority-Black wards with average incomes of $50,000 or less. Some were majority-white wards with the average income reaching over $150,000. Our demographic data was from WWTV, which enlisted DataMade to analyze the American Community Survey’s 5-year data .

Voters were not asked how they voted, though some people volunteered that information. Polling workers who said that their job did not allow them to talk to the press were granted anonymity.

Caroline Catherman and Grace Rodgers are health, environment and science reporters at Medill. You can follow them on Twitter at @CECatherman and @gracelizrodgers.