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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Chicago Primary Election Results Still Uncertain as Vote Counting Continues

Vote counting in Chicago continued into Wednesday afternoon following Tuesday’s primary election, with two high-profile local races remaining too close to call.

Unofficial results from city officials indicated that a referendum aiming to change the city’s real estate transfer tax and increase rates on high-value properties to fund homelessness programs seemed to be failing based on the tabulated vote. However, thousands of Election Day and mail ballots are yet to be counted.

In the contest for the Democratic nomination for the top prosecutor in Cook County, Illinois, Eileen O’Neill Burke, a retired appellate judge, held a slight edge over her opponent, Clayton Harris III, a university lecturer and former prosecutor. Cook County encompasses Chicago and some of its suburbs.

Both the ballot measure and Mr. Harris’s candidacy garnered support from Chicago’s progressive establishment, leaving many city officials and activists frustrated by the potential failure of both initiatives. Mayor Brandon Johnson, a Democrat who assumed office last year, was a vocal proponent of the ballot measure.

On Tuesday night, twenty precincts in Chicago were unable to report results due to issues such as election judges failing to properly transmit results or leaving sites without a final tally, as stated by election officials.

Max Bever, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, mentioned in an email that “Ultimately, the picture for contests will be much clearer by this weekend.” He also noted that out of 176,870 ballots mailed to voters who had requested them for Tuesday’s primary election, only 66,339 were received by Monday and counted in the initial results. Ballots postmarked by Election Day must be counted, even if they arrive later in the week.

The voter turnout for the primary election was low, with only 20 percent of registered voters in Chicago casting ballots.

Both candidates in the state’s attorney race are competing to succeed Kim Foxx, a Democrat who took office in 2016 with a progressive platform aimed at reforming the criminal justice system. Foxx opted not to seek re-election this year after serving two terms.

The winner of the Democratic primary will face a Republican candidate in November, although countywide partisan races are typically not competitive.

The ballot measure proposed reducing the city’s real estate transfer tax on properties selling for less than $1 million, while imposing higher rates on homes and commercial buildings selling for more than $1 million. Supporters argue that the additional revenue, estimated to be at least $100 million annually, would be allocated towards addressing homelessness, with specific spending details to be determined later.

Opponents of the measure acknowledged the issue of homelessness but argued that the tax would further burden an office real estate market already struggling due to post-pandemic vacancy rates.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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