Illinois saw fourth lowest midterm turnout in past 40 years

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 6:25 PM CST
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - The Illinois State Board of Elections certified the 2022 Midterm Election results Monday. State officials said 4.1 million ballots were cast, even though Illinois has 8.1 million registered voters. ISBE noted that it was the fourth lowest turnout for a midterm election in the last 40 years.

The Board reported that 51% of registered voters participated in the election, compared to 57% for the 2018 midterm.

While overall turnout barely surpassed 50%, more than 39% of voters decided to vote before Election Day. 18% of votes were cast by mail and 21% of ballots were cast by people voting early in person. Many voters signed up for the permanent vote-by-mail list over the summer and ISBE officials explained vote-by-mail ballots doubled compared with the 2018 midterm.

Still, people may ask themselves why more Illinoisans aren’t civically engaged during midterm elections. Illinois saw a 65% turnout for the 1982 midterm, but ISBE spokesperson Matt Dietrich said there are now more eligible voters being registered through automatic voter registration. Anyone renewing their driver’s license, fishing or hunting license, or state ID can register to vote if they haven’t already.

“There’s always been a debate whether that ultimately would sort of drive down turnout because are you bringing in people who were apathetic about voting to begin with? Now they’re registered,” Dietrich said. “Now they’re counted against the overall voter count. Is that going to lower turnout?”

Dietrich said it will take several election cycles before that can be determined. 2024 will be a presidential election year. Dietrich noted that voter turnout in those contests is generally closer to 70-73%.

Gov. JB Pritzker won re-election with 2.25 million votes compared to 1.74 million ballots cast for Sen. Darren Bailey. Meanwhile, Sen. Tammy Duckworth defeated Kathy Salvi 2.3 million to 1.7 million.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul won re-election with 2.2 million votes compared to 1.7 ballots cast for Tom DeVore. Alexi Giannoulias will become the next Secretary of State after receiving 2.2 million votes over Rep. Dan Brady’s 1.8 million. Treasurer Michael Frerichs bested Rep. Tom Demmer 2.2 million votes to 1.8 million.

Comptroller Susana Mendoza received the most votes of any candidate with 2.3 million. Her Republican opponent, Shannon Teresi, had 1.7 million ballot cast in her favor.

Some voters were confused about the long wait before the final result was known for the Workers’ Rights Amendment. Dietrich said there are frequently people who skip questions on ballots. That can lead to a confusing process for local election authorities trying to tally the results.

“You can’t take the total number of votes for governor and say, ‘Ah, that’s the total number of ballots cast,’ because we know it’s going to be somewhat higher than that. And that’s what makes it tricky on the constitutional amendment,” Dietrich said.

The Workers’ Rights Amendment needed either 60% of yes votes on ballots where people answered the constitutional question or 50% on all ballots cast. The amendment passed with 53.4% of yes votes on ballots cast during the midterm. Dietrich explained that ISBE couldn’t tally the total number of votes cast until they had results from the state’s 108 local election authorities.

2.2 million voters supported the constitutional amendment. The question received approval from 58.7% of Illinoisans voting on the amendment.

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