Election officials called Tuesday's poor voter turnout in Chicago "very, very unfortunate" as more than 70 percent of registered voters did not bother casting a ballot.
The low turnout was evident early Tuesday, with Jim Allen, communications director for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, telling the Chicago Tribune that there were precincts all over the city that experienced as few as two voters coming through their doors in the morning hours.
"That's bad," he said. "There are very few voters coming out to cast a ballot. This could mean six more weeks of campaigning if the voters just see their shadows."
Chicago Election Board Chairman Langdon D. Neal did not have much better news 30 minutes before the polls closed on Tuesday evening, when he told reporters in a conference call that they were predicting a 25 to 30 percent turnout in Tuesday's primary.
"It's very, very unfortunate," Neal said of Tuesday's poor turnout. "[It was] a very quiet day from start to finish."
Both Neal and Allen agreed that the record numbers of people who registered to vote in the 2008 presidential election "drove down" the numbers a bit--adding that the "unusually high" voter registration count was not consistent with the number of people who usually vote in local primary elections.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the low turnout theme continued in the suburbs and beyond:
Election officials in the Cook County suburbs and Dan White, who heads the Illinois State Board of Elections, predicted the total turnout will be less than 25 percent in both the suburbs and statewide.
When asked whether the morning snow played a role, Neal seemed skeptical. "I really don't think [weather] played that large of a role. It was not a day of inclement weather for a Chicago winter."
Todd Conner, who is running for Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner took to Twitter asking supporters to vote Tuesday afternoon.
"Voter turn out is record low, especially in progressive, independent neighborhoods," Conner tweeted. "Get 3 friends, and go vote!"
Low turnout in Illinois primaries is not unusual, reports the Tribune:
In 2008, 41 percent of eligible voters went to the polls or cast early ballots--and that was an election that featured favorite son Barack Obama on the Democratic presidential ballot. In 2006, when the primary was at the beginning of spring, the turnout hit just 25 percent.
The record bottom for turnout in a statewide primary is just 25 percent, hit in 1978 and again four years ago when Rod Blagojevich was seeking his second term as governor.
City officials estimated Wednesday that the total turnout would be 26 percent.