DOWNTOWN — Chicago is on pace to see the highest voter turnout in years for a midterm election — and it’s Millennials who are crowding the polls.
The city has seen 572,001 ballots cast as of 2 p.m., including ballots sent by mail and early voters, said Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. That puts Chicago on track to reach 50 percent or higher turnout by the end of voting at 7 p.m., he said.
Voting was highest in the morning, Allen said, adding that the strong turnout from early voting and vote by mail appeared to be “panning out” in Election Day voting.
“If the pattern follows similar to the primary, we’ll see significant numbers like we did this morning and we could be crossing 50 percent,” Allen said. Chicago could “easily cross — after the evening rush — we should definitely, easily cross the 50 percent [mark]. So now it’s gonna be do we reach 53, 56, what?”
The last time a midterm election hit 50 percent turnout in Chicago was in 2010, when 52 percent of registered voters cast a ballot, Allen said. But if turnout stays high through the post-work rush, turnout could top 53 percent (last hit in 2002) or even 58 percent (reached in 1982).
What makes the turnout more impressive is that Chicago has also had a higher than usual number of people registered to vote this year. As of 12:50 p.m., 1,503,353 people were registered to vote in Chicago.
“We’re beating the average for midterm turnout,” Allen said. “For many of these midterm elections … the registration was around 1.35 [million people] and here we are, 1.5 million [people]. We’re seeing these turnouts even though we have more voters on the rolls.”
The uptick in turnout is being led by millennials. As of 2 p.m., 110,528 of the ballots cast have come from people ages 25-34, Allen said. The age group with the next-highest turnout is people ages 55-64, who have cast 104,049 ballots.
More than 352,000 people ages 25-34 were registered to vote in the city, making it by far the winner in terms of voter registration among Chicago’s age groups. The age group with the next-highest amount of voter registration, people aged 65 and up, had 278,485 people registered to vote.
Here’s a look at turnout by the numbers:
• 18-24-year-olds: 29,528 votes cast
• 25-34: 110,528
• 35-44: 94,305
• 45-54: 90,533
• 55-64: 104,049
• 65-74: 85,391
• 75+: 54,999
Though most polling places will stop people from joining their lines at 7 p.m., the Board of Election Commissioners will ask a court to keep four polling places open late due to earlier problems at those locations, Allen said.
Here’s where the hours could be extended:
• 20th and 31st precincts in the 9th Ward: These precincts had their ballots mixed up and the board will ask for voting to be extended to 8 p.m.
• 46th precinct in the 2nd Ward: This site was delayed in opening and the board will ask for voting to be extended to 8 p.m.
• 22nd precinct in the 20th Ward: Judges didn’t show up at 7 a.m. and the board will ask for voting to be extended to 8 p.m.
• 12th precinct in the 19th Ward: This site had the incorrect ballot style and the board will ask for voting to be extended to 9 p.m.
Two election judges also had to be asked to leave because they appeared to be drunk, Allen said. Those judges were removed from the 5th precinct in the 39th Ward and the 18th precinct in the 49th Ward.
One of the judges who was removed argued with a principal at the school where voting was taking place and his colleagues said he was being “unprofessional,” Allen said.