Illinois reports second-lowest primary election turnout in 40 years

Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 9:17 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Illinois saw a 21.7% turnout for the June primary election. The Illinois State Board of Elections said that is the second-lowest primary turnout in the last 40 years.

Even though there were several major races in this year’s primary, Illinois voters barely surpassed the 18% turnout for the 2014 primary.

June 28 was the latest Illinois has held a primary election, which may have confused voters who were used to voting in March or April. Board spokesperson Matt Dietrich said the low turnout could’ve been caused by the delayed election or people having other plans during the summer month.

The breakdown in this primary was roughly 52% Democratic voters and 46% Republican voters. Board members certified the election results on Friday.

“Overall turnout tends to go up when you have a higher Democratic turnout,” Dietrich said. “There are just more Democratic voters generally that come out in primaries.”

Sen. Darren Bailey and running mate Stephanie Trussell received 458,102 votes, roughly 57.5% of the vote from Republicans. The closest Republican gubernatorial candidate was Jesse Sullivan with 125,094 votes or 15.7%.

Meanwhile, Gov. JB Pritzker and Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton won 98.9% of the Democratic votes over Beverly Miles. Pritzker received 810,989 votes while Miles reached 71,704 voters.

Dietrich explained that a few jurisdictions had a handful of offices where the Libertarian Party was established and there were 2,425 Libertarian ballots cast statewide. However, 2.4% of the primary voters decided to take nonpartisan ballots just to vote on local referendums.

Nearly 270,000 people voted by mail for the June primary, which made up 15.3% of the election turnout. Dietrich said that is a significant jump from 9.11% of Illinoisans voting by mail during the 2020 primary. Only 96,875 votes were cast by mail for the 2018 primary, making up 4.6% of the total vote.

Illinois saw 2 million people choose to vote by mail during the 2020 general election. Many elected officials were encouraging people to vote by mail and avoid large crowds during that election season as COVID-19 was spreading across the country.

“Two years ago, people were receiving applications that they could simply sign, fill out, and send back so they could receive a vote-by-mail ballot. That helped as well,” Dietrich said. “That’s not happening this year. People will be notified over the next few weeks that they can get onto a permanent vote-by-mail list where they’ll receive an application to get a vote-by-mail ballot during every election.”

Dietrich noted the primary election went smoothly and the only problems were seen in Chicago where many election judges didn’t show up to work or polling places opened later than scheduled.

Now, the focus shifts to the November election. The timeline for the Board of Elections, county clerks, and county election commissions was compressed due to the late primary date. The petition objection process is underway, and candidates still have the opportunity to seek judicial review which could further delay important deadlines.

“You’re trying to certify the ballot by Aug. 26,” Dietrich said. “You have the potential of cases still being caught up in court at that time. Now, we’re optimistic that won’t happen.”

Dietrich also said there is generally lower turnout in midterm elections when there is a Democratic incumbent governor. However, there is a very competitive Secretary of State race with Jesse White leaving office after 24 years. ISBE members expect to see a 50-55% turnout for the November election.

People can start to apply for vote-by-mail ballots on Aug. 10. Early voting starts on September 29 and the general election is November 8.

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