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Sit Tight: Thousands Of Votes Remain To Be Counted In 3 Too-Close-To-Call City Council Races

Three tight races for the City Council in the 5th, 33rd and 46th wards will likely not be decided until next week.

Rossana Rodriguez
Linze Rice / Block Club Chicago
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DOWNTOWN — Three tight races for the City Council in the 5th, 33rd and 46th wards will likely not be decided until next week — after officials count thousands of mail, provisional and jail detainee ballots.

The election will be certified April 16.

Chicago Board of Election Commissioners spokesperson Jim Allen told reporters that Tuesday’s turnout — just about 31 percent at the end of the night — was typical for a landslide election. Approximately 495,000 Chicagoans voted in Tuesday’s runoff election.

“Hopefully this won’t be the record low turnout for Chicago municipal elections, but it’s already not only in the same neighborhood but the same cul-de-sac,” Allen said.

Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot won approximately 74 percent of the vote, according to unofficial returns.

The turnout in Tuesday’s election mirrored results in 2007, when former Mayor Richard M. Daley won 78.5 percent of the 456,000 ballots cast, Allen said.

“I think because of the polls in advance of Election Day, there was this presumption that the election was pretty much already decided,” Allen said. “Voters are smart, they hear and read about polls, you typically draw primarily the voters who are going to go turn out for every election no matter what, I think that’s what we had yesterday… This was a landslide.”

Approximately 3,000 fewer voters in each age group voted on Tuesday than they did on Feb. 26, Allen said.

In the 5th Ward, Ald. Leslie Hairston leads Will Calloway by 152 votes; in the 33rd Ward, Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez leads Ald. Deb Mell by 64 votes; in the 46th Ward, Ald. James Cappleman is 23 votes ahead of Marianne Lalonde.

The board will also examine 10 precincts where there were discrepancies discovered between the number of ballots cast and the number of voters recorded in poll books. In addition, ballots cast at 38 nursing homes on voted Monday have not yet been counted, officials said.

Fewer than 500 pretrial detainee ballots need to be counted, as well as 200 mail ballots that arrived Monday, 3,700 that arrived Tuesday, and approximately 1,700 provisional ballots. More mail ballots are expected to arrive in the coming days, and will be counted Friday and Saturday, officials said.

“Whether it’s a landslide or whether it’s a razor-thin margin, we’re going to continue to count every ballot as is required by law all the way through the 16th of April,” Allen said.

Cappleman was confident on Wednesday.

“It feels pretty good, so we’ll see,” Cappleman told reporters at City Hall Wednesday. “I think what we’re seeing is a lot of people are very desperate for change in the city of Chicago with overwhelming support that Mayor-elect Lightfoot had. I think that’s healthy and I welcome that, and I think we’re making history right now and we should all be proud of that.”

Cappleman is one of few current committee chairs left standing after Tuesday.

Housing Chairman Ald. Joe Moore (49th) lost in February, as did Economic Development Chairman Ald. Joe Moreno (1st). Workforce and Finance Chairman Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th) lost his re-election bid on Tuesday.

Cappleman, who replaced disgraced and retiring Ald. Danny Solis (25th) as chairman of the Zoning Committee, said he would be happy to lead the powerful body “as long as there’s some radical reform.”

The city’s affordable housing rules need to change, Cappleman said.

“I told Mayor-elect Lightfoot about a month ago that I believe the city of Chicago needs to focus on affordable housing for those individuals who earn less than 30 percent of the area median income… it’s hard to make that case when I have other colleagues who are refusing to provide housing to that group of people who are most in need,” Cappleman said.