DOWNTOWN — Chicago saw early voting jump up nearly 100 percent for the midterm election, and voting by mail broke records.
In all, Chicago finished its early voting period with 223,548 ballots cast, a 96 percent jump from the midterm election in 2014, according to a news release from the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
Early voting, which started in September and ended Monday night, ran 40 days. The city saw half of all ballots cast during that period submitted during the final six days. A total of 28,367 ballots — or 12.7 percent of the early voting total — were cast on Monday alone, making it the busiest day of early voting.
All of Illinois saw increased turnout for early voting, with more than 1.5 million ballots cast, according to the Chicago Tribune. But the early voting turnout doesn’t match what Chicago has seen during presidential election years (the city got 325,112 early votes in 2016), according to the election board.
Voting by mail also broke records as Chicagoans sent in 116,532 applications to vote by mail, according to the election board. So far, 76,027 of those ballots have been returned with 680 put on hold or rejected.
The increased turnout comes amid a highly contentious election as Democrats throughout the country try to “flip” Congress and make it blue to counter President Donald Trump. Chicagoans are also helping decide if J.B. Pritzker or Bruce Rauner will serve as governor in the coming years.
Organizations and leaders throughout the city have been urging people to vote, regardless of who they vote for. Flowers for Dreams, a Chicago-based flower company, is even offering free mini bouquets in honor of Election Day.