CHICAGO — Joe Biden has claimed Illinois, an expected victory — but whether he or Donald Trump will take the presidency remains to be seen.
Biden, the former vice president to Chicago’s Barack Obama, had been widely expected to win Chicago and the rest of Illinois, a Democrat stronghold. The Associated Press called the race for Biden once polls closed at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
What will happen nationally remains to be seen, though. Neither Biden nor Trump has the electoral votes needed to be victorious, with contests in remaining states close and the results hinging on mail-in votes. In an early Wednesday speech, Biden urged Americans to be patient.
“It’s not my place or Donald Trump’s place to declare who has won this election,” Biden said. “That’s the decision of the American people.”
Trump, on the other hand, falsely declared victory and threatened legal auction, saying, “We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.”
Both campaigns have prepared expansive legal teams for court battles.
In Chicago, Biden claimed an overwhelming 81.59 percent of the vote, while Trump had 16.86 percent, according to unofficial election results. Those numbers could change slightly as mail-in votes come in.
The city has prepared for potential unrest over the national contest, though. There will be a heightened police presence through Sunday, and large city vehicles like garbage trucks have been used to block commercial strips. There was security around Trump Tower.
The city set up groups of officers around the city Tuesday night, preparing for protests — but there were no signs of unrest during the night.
Several organizations are planning rallies for Wednesday and beyond to demand the election be decided fairly.
“This election has generated a lot of emotions on all sides,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a Wednesday morning statement. “There will be a lot of chatter until the election results are verified, but it is crucial for us as a city to be focused and diligent to be sure, but also calm and peaceful.
“Let’s channel our emotions into a productive expression of our First Amendment rights. No matter the outcome, we will get through this by remaining together, as neighbors who need each other and love our great city and country.”
Across Chicago, voters told Block Club Chicago they favored Biden because they think the country needs to see major changes after four years under Trump’s leadership.
Scott Heintzelman, 30, was among a group of early morning voters in Lakeview. He said the biggest issue on the ballot for him was the presidential race.
“The last four years have been so bad for our society and now the pandemic is making things even worse,” Heintzelman said. “We need a change and stronger unity from the top-down, which is why I voted for Joe Biden.”
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Trump’s been no beloved figure in Chicago. He’s routinely criticized the city and its leaders — and faced sharp criticism in return from Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Gov. JB Pritzker and others.
That divide has become increasingly clear amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 3,000 people in Chicago and more than 230,000 nationally. Lightfoot and Pritzker have said Trump’s administration fumbled its response to the crisis, leading to deaths and economic turmoil.
Residents have long criticized the president, too. After Trump’s election in 2016, it became a trend for people to go to his namesake tower and take a photo of them giving the finger to the building. The building has also been the sight of protests throughout his term.
But voters said they supported Biden because they are worried about bigger issues, like the federal government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the growing divisiveness of politics.
Mike Milstein, 28, and Andrew Townsend, 30, voted Tuesday in Lakeview. As gay men, they said they are worried about their civil rights being further restricted if Trump wins a second term.
“As gay men, we need to be mindful that our rights are at risk right now, especially with a conservative Supreme Court,” Milstein said.
Near West Side residents Jason Debray, 21, and Andrea Cargill, voted for Biden because there needs to be a “positive change,” Cargill said. Debray said it is “time for us as young people to step up because at the end of the day we are the future of this country.”
Debray said he thinks “Biden would make a better president.”
Edward Labatt, a Chicago resident for more than 30 years, said he was enthusiastically voting for Biden.
“We need to get away from this divisiveness. We need to start working together again,” he said. “Trump is just a pox upon this land.”
For others, the choices — Biden and Trump — simply weren’t exciting. Silvia Garcia, standing outside the Little Village Public Library polling place, said she voted for Biden, but she wishes there had been other candidates.
“The truth is we don’t have much of an option — a demented person and an old man,” Garcia said in Spanish.“I don’t want a demented person as president. I don’t like either, I’d prefer someone who is young and active with new ideas.”
Trump did have support in pockets of the city, though.
Ariel M., of East Ukrainian Village, said he thinks both candidates are too old and Trump is “bad-mannered.” But under Trump’s leadership, the unemployment rate hit historical lows while the stock market soared, and that’s why Ariel — who declined to give his last name — said he voted to re-elect the president.
“I don’t agree with a lot of the Republican side,” he said. “I wish there had been a younger candidate, someone who goes with the views of the modern world.”
Block Club Chicago’s election coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.
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