Election blog: Turnout could be as low as 40 percent

Barring a late surge of voters, election officials are estimating voter turnout in today’s mayoral election could be as low as 40 percent, well off the 50 percent predicted.

Polls are set to close at 7 p.m. Langdon Neal, chairman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, said the turnout could be anywhere from 40 percent to 45 percent. He said those figures have been consistent across the city and no parts of the city showed significantly higher voter participation than others.
“Citywide it’s pretty even,” Neal said, saying snow this morning didn’t help matters. “I think this morning it wasn’t ideal. That’s a factor.”
The two previous municipal elections had about 33 percent turnout, Neal said, but election officials expected to reach about 50 percent given this was the first year in more than a half-century that an incumbent wasn’t running for mayor.

--  David Kidwell


4:24 p.m. Two boozing judges, one just napping

On an otherwise slow Election Day in Chicago, there is now a second election judge who has been ousted from his post for being drunk.

It happened in the 11th Ward. An investigator from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners went to the fire station at 3509 S Lowe Ave. and ejected a judge who “smelled of booze."

Earlier in the day, another judge was yanked for showing up to a polling place intoxicated.

In the 37th ward at the Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy, another judge apparently spent part of the afternoon napping during voting, according to the board’s reports. Investigators got witness confirmation that the judge spent "45 minutes off to the side and not executing responsibilities."

The judge was told that napping is not allowed.

-- David Kidwell


2:51 p.m. In Uptown, lowered expectations

The crowded race to replace Ald. Helen Schiller in the 46th Ward drew a steady stream of voters in some precincts but failed to generate much interest in others.

In the 38th precinct in Uptown, about 100 people had voted by noon. But just after noon, seven people showed up at once, the biggest surge poll workers had seen all day.

Election judge Connie Wade said she normally likes to be the 300th voter to cast a ballot, but today she decided to settle on 200th because of the low turn-out.  “I’m going to wait and see what happens at 5:30. If we’re not close, I’ll change it again,” she said.

David Stein, 53, was among the lunchtime voters who showed up in a subsidized residential building in Uptown. For him, the aldermanic race was more important than the mayoral race.

“It’s very important in this ward to preserve affordable housing and serve a diverse population that includes economic and class as well as racial,” said Stein. “Some candidates are for that and some are not.”

Stein said he voted for Marc Kaplan for alderman and Miguel del Valle for mayor.

“(De Valle) seems the most like a man of the people and not big money interests,” said Stein. “Rahm (Emanuel) is too connected to Wall Street and appeals to their interests. They already have too much clout, so they don’t need to be in Chicago City Hall.”

Closer to the lakefront, some voters said they turned out to vote for Emanuel.

“It’s a big change in Chicago,” said Margaret O’Hara, who cast her vote for Emanuel in a high-rise near Lake Shore Drive. “It’s important that the next mayor understand the importance of keeping the Magnificent Mile nice, with art and flowers.”