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Chicago Seeing Low Turnout For Mayoral Election

Election board officials say Chicago is headed toward possible historic low turnout for its mayoral election unless voting picks up before polls close at 7 p.m.

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Chicago Mayoral Election

Early-morning voting Tuesday at the DANK Haus German American Cultural Center at 4740 N. Western Ave.

Manuel Martinez/WBEZ

Updated at 1:59 p.m.

Chicago could be headed toward a historic low turnout for Tuesday’s mayoral election unless voting picks up in the final hours.

Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen said if the current pace keeps up the city is “not even going to hit 30 percent.”

As of 1 p.m., just 19 percent of eligible voters had cast ballots — that included early voting. Allen said the previous low for a February mayoral election was 33.8 percent in 2007.

A record 14 candidates are running to replace Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who isn’t seeking another term. If none receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will face off April 2.

Allen said he thinks many voters are undecided and want to hold off “until they know who’s in the runoff, assuming there is a runoff.”

He urged people to vote and said, “they don’t want to wake up tomorrow and find out their candidate barely missed making the run off.”

Polls are open until 7 p.m. You can look up your polling place using your address or name here.

And here’s what you need to know about the issues and candidates.

Teryn Robinson voted at her polling place on the Northwest Side, saying “this is a big one. We’re talking mayor, we’re talking aldermen. I couldn’t not vote.”

In the South Loop, Beth Parker cast her vote at Jones College Prep.

“I really hope that a new administration will find a way to get rid of the old power blocks that have really made it impossible to have economic justice in the City of Chicago,” she said.

Thousands of people opted to cast their votes before Election Day.

The election board said about 125,000 early votes were in as of Monday. That compares with 90,000 early votes in the last city election, in 2015, Allen said.

The early voters this year included Kofi Ademola, who said he already cast his vote in the Woodlawn neighborhood. “I went up to the library on 63rd and Cottage [Grove Avenue] and people were, you know, saying jokes and stuff. It was very welcoming.”

Notice any Chicago-style shenanigans when you go to vote? You can report polling place irregularities to the election board by calling 312-269-7870.

After polls close, results will start rolling in. But the election board never declares winners or losers on election night. They will aim to release unofficial vote totals by Wednesday afternoon.

Here’s what could happen if no clear winner emerges from the election.

WBEZ’s Mariah Woelfel and Claudia Morell contributed.

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