Voters across Chicago will be making their picks for mayor, alderman, city treasurer, clerk and, for the first time, representatives on police district councils. Some voters also will be asked local referendum questions.
The battle for the fifth floor of City Hall includes nine candidates: incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot is seeking a second term, but, like many other big-city mayors, is facing headwinds over a rise in crime, questions about public schools, and the lingering impacts of COVID-19 on the city’s business climate, public transit and other government services. Candidates have broadly criticized what they describe as her combative style and failure to live up to campaign promises. She’s argued she’s making good on promises to make the city more equitable.
Lightfoot faces a diverse field of candidates, including U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García, former CPS CEO Paul Vallas, state Rep. Kabium “Kam” Buckner, business owner and perennial candidate Willie Wilson, Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, 6th Ward Ald. Roderick Sawyer, 4th Ward Ald. Sophia King, and activist Ja’Mal Green.
If by Election Day on Feb. 28 no candidate secures more than 50% of the vote, the top two vote-getters will face off in a runoff election on April 4. The same is true for aldermanic candidates.
Two major factors affect this year’s City Council races: A wave of aldermanic exits — due to retirement, criminal indictment, or candidates seeking higher office — will guarantee several new faces come May. Wards also have brand-new boundaries following a bruising redistricting battle, meaning candidates may be campaigning in new territory and voters might be located in a new ward. The Chicago Board of Election Commissioners also cut the number of precincts by nearly 40% since the primary last year, meaning most voters’ polling places have changed.
Max Bever, spokesman for the board, said that despite the “big change” in polling places, the board did not see any statistical anomalies that looked like people were prevented from voting after the changes. The “canary in the coal mine” about polling place problems would have been big changes in provisional ballots, he said.
“We had just over 6,000 provisional ballots for the last Nov. 8 election, which is a lot less than we’ve seen in other midterms,” Bever said. “Turnout was lower than we’d like to see, but it looks like we matched that trend statewide.”
“The vast majority of polling places for February are going to be the same as they were in November,” Bever said.
You can check your new ward and polling place below.
Chicago’s continued shift away from machine politics and toward progressive organizing could continue, as old-school politicians are fading from the limelight. Ald. Ed Burke, 14th, is not running for reelection for the first time in more than a half-century and former House Speaker Mike Madigan — who held sway over many local elections over the years — has stepped down amid federal criminal indictment. Long-serving council moderates are also heading for the exits. Meanwhile, groups aligned with labor unions and the Democratic Socialists of America are expanding their reach and seeking to boost their numbers.
Voters in 11 of the city’s 50 wards — the 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 17th, 27th, 28th, 32nd, 35th, 42nd, 44th, and 47th — have just one choice for alderman. City Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin and City Clerk Anna Valencia, who ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state in 2022, are also running unopposed.
For the first time, Chicago voters will see police district council elections on their ballots. Representatives in those districts will be responsible for collaborating with department officials on community policing issues. District members are responsible for helping select individuals for the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability. That body is tasked with helping select and remove the heads of the city’s Police Department and police oversight bodies and setting CPD policy.
You can find which of the city’s 22 police districts you live in below.
“This is unique in Chicago history and we hope voters step up and turn out to vote,” Bever said.
The candidates in each police district receiving the most, second-most and third-most number of votes will be the winners. But four police districts — the 1st, 5th, 6th, and 14th — have only two candidates on the ballot. That means write-in candidates could potentially for the first time in Chicago’s history win municipal offices. Write-in candidates are eligible only if they submit a declaration-of-intent form to the city, according to Bever; if 400 voters in the 1st District, for example, wrote “Mickey Mouse,” he would not win, Bever said.
The names of write-in candidates who have submitted their paperwork to the city won’t be available until Feb. 22, eight days before Election Day. If two write-in candidates in the same district receive the same number of votes, election authorities would choose the winner by lottery.
In ballot referendums, voters in the 16th Ward will be asked whether they think the 63rd and Racine station on CTA’s Green Line should be reopened for Englewood riders. And in certain precincts in the 5th Ward voters will be asked about housing affordability near the Obama Presidential Center.
If you aren’t opting for vote-by-mail but find yourself unavailable to cast your ballot on Election Day, you can vote early. Find your early voting site information on the State Board of Elections website.
In Chicago, early voting began on Jan. 26 at the Loop Super Site at 191 N. Clark St. and at the Board of Elections office on the sixth floor at 69 W. Washington St.
On Feb. 13, early voting expands to polling places in each ward.
In Chicago, residents can vote at any early voting site regardless of what ward they live in. The Chicago Board of Elections also will take calls from voters looking for information at its Early Voting Election Central at 312-269-7900.
Whether you travel for business, can’t get to the polls on Election Day or simply prefer to get your civic responsibility out of the way, voting early is an option.
Votes cast early aren’t counted until polls close on Election Day on Feb. 28.
If you already are registered to vote and your address is correct, you do not need to bring your ID, though it’s not a bad idea to bring it in case your signature doesn’t match the one on file. Be sure to bring two forms of identification if you also plan to register on the same day you plan to vote or if you need to change your address or name. At least one of those IDs must list your current address.
Anyone who has requested a mail-in ballot should receive it soon. Feb. 23 is the deadline to request a mail-in ballot, and Feb. 28 — Election Day — is the latest date a mail-in ballot can be postmarked to be counted.
[ Chicago Board of Election Commissioners: Start an online application for a vote by mail ballot ]
Chicago voters can mail their ballot or deposit it at any of the Chicago Board of Elections’ secured drop boxes. One important note: Each ballot must include the signed and sealed ballot return envelope with the voter’s name on it.
Mail-in ballots can be returned to the drop boxes at:
- Chicago Board of Elections (Sixth floor, Board offices), 69 W. Washington St., Chicago. You can submit your ballots anytime at this site through 7 p.m. Election Day (Feb. 28).
- Chicago Election Board Annex (Loop Super Site), 191 N. Clark St., Chicago. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday (Jan. 26-Feb. 19). 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Monday-Friday (Feb. 20-24). 6 a.m.-7 p.m., Election Day (Feb. 28).
- Any of the early voting sites listed below. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday (Feb. 13-27). 6 a.m.-7 p.m., Election Day (Feb. 28).
If you decide to vote early in person but already received a mail-in ballot, bring that ballot with you when you go to vote in person to have the ballot that was mailed to you canceled.
The Chicago City Council adopted a new map of the city’s 50 wards in May 2022.
The map that passed has 16 Black-majority wards and 14 Latino-majority wards, one fewer Latino ward than the Latino Caucus wanted in light of Latino population gains citywide. It also includes Chicago’s first Asian-majority ward.
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Here’s a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction look at where and when residents may vote in advance of the election on Feb. 28.
Locations and hours of operation are subject to change, so check with your local jurisdiction for latest information.
Jurisdiction: Chicago Board of Election Commissioners
Type your address into the search box below to find the one closest to you.