Evanston had a record voter turnout for midterm elections, clerk says

Kristina Karisch, City Editor

Evanston measured its highest voter turnout in over two decades during this year’s midterm elections, City clerk Devon Reid said at City Council on Monday.

The total voter turnout of 34,505 for the Nov. 6 election was 67 percent in Evanston, which is the highest percentage on record since 1994, when about 50 percent of eligible residents went to the polls, Reid said. In total, over 52,000 voters were registered prior to the election.

The clerk’s office conducted a texting campaign and used phone banking and social media outreach, as well as door-to-door and event outreach to inform voters about how to cast their ballots. Reid said early voting made up about 40 percent of votes cast, and that this election was the first in which Evanston ranked ahead of surrounding communities in early voting numbers, which amounted to 13,000 votes.

Graphic by Allie Goulding
Reid said over 500 voters cast provisional ballots in the election, the highest number so far. He said same-day voter registration has had a large impact across the city, most prominently among 5th Ward voters.

The highest turnout overall was in the 6th Ward, where 75 percent of registered voters cast their ballots on Nov. 6. All wards saw an increase in turnout compared to 2014.

Reid said his goal is to reach over 60 percent turnout in every ward during off-year, or midterm elections. Currently, the 5th Ward, with 56.5 percent turnout, is the only ward below that threshold.

Evanston’s ballot also featured two referenda — one regarding a proposed real estate transfer tax and the other concerning the possible demolition of the Harley Clarke Mansion, which sits on the lakefront in the northern part of the city. Both passed, and 80 percent of residents voted in favor of preserving the mansion on the advisory referendum.

Reid said support for Harley Clarke was highest in the 5th Ward, where 83.6 percent of residents voted in favor.

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