There has been a lot of attention given to the fact that turnout last night was significantly lower than four years ago, which is true, however that year was a bit of an outlier and this year's numbers track pretty closely to the 2007 and 2003 Chicago Municipal elections:
|Reg Voters||Tot Mayor Voters||Participation Rate|
With some valid late arriving vote by mail ballots left to be counted the total votes in the Mayor's race last night currently stands at about 466K (very close to my projection last night) and a participation rate of a little under 33% on about 1.4 million registered voters. You can see that over the last four cycles the number of citywide registered voters has stayed within a band of 30,000 so it's held pretty flat. The total vote last night held remarkably similar to 2003 and 2007. In other words last night's election was nothing special, wasn't a big turnout like 2011 and wasn't a horrible one either, it just tracked well with other recent elections with an incumbent Mayor.
Today I saw two schools of thought on the likely turnout for the April runoff: 1) the number of total voters in the Mayor's race in the April runoff will be lower because a) there aren't competitive aldermanic elections in every ward, b) some supporters of the candidates that did not qualify for the runoff will not vote and c) election fatigue. The other school of thought is 2) the number of total voters in the Mayor's race in the April runoff will actually be higher than February because a) with a slimmed down field the campaign coverage will be more focused and more voters will be paying attention, b) the Mayor's veil of invincibility has been pierced leading some disaffected voters to participate, c) the weather will be better and d) with fewer other races to distract the campaigns or dilute the campaign staffs more people will be working to drive up turnout.
I still tend to believe that the overall number of voters in the Mayor's race in April will be lower than the total from February but I find the conversation interesting. We don't have much historical data to work with, there hasn't been a runoff in the Mayor's race since the current format was put in place in 1999. However we can look at all of the aldermanic elections that went to runoff in the last three cycles and see how regularly the April runoffs featured more total voters than the February elections:
|Year||Ward||Feb Total||Apr Total||Diff||Diff %|
Looking at the table above the general expectation for an aldermanic runoff is the April election will have fewer total votes than the February election, in fact the average for the 14 aldermanic runoffs of 2011 was about 31% lower (12% lower on average in 2007 and 11% lower on average in 2003). There are a few exceptions of course but it's clear that April just has a lower participation rate.
However I would caution these totals are just for downballot aldermanic races. A runoff in a Mayor's race is likely to lead most newscasts over the next 6 weeks. You'll also see plenty of broadcast TV ads and heavy mail and likely phone calls or door knocks. The level of attention given to this runoff will be very different from these past aldermanic runoffs. No matter what your preferred theory is for turnout in April I don't think the data rules out any possibility.
Late last night the Chicago Board of Elections made their ward by ward (and precinct by precinct) numbers available and I was able to plug those numbers into the tracker I would have used had those numbers been available earlier in the night. Most of these insights are derived from a quick glance at the tracker.
A few thoughts:
Here are some of the big questions going into April:
Now we have a six week sprint until April.
UPDATE: our election night tracker for the Chicago's Mayor's race is now live:
End of update.
The Chicago municipal elections are on Tuesday for all 50 aldermen/women, the Mayor, the City Clerk and the City Treasurer.
Since the last Chicago municipal election in 2011 the City of Chicago has redrawn their ward boundaries. The Mayor's race is not expected to be close on Tuesday but it is expected that Mayor Emanuel will come very close to reaching or exceeding the 50% + 1 threshold needed to avoid a runoff. I thought it would make sense to take the precinct level data from the 2011 Mayoral election and reconfigure those vote totals based on the new ward map. Some of the wards are similar to the 2011 map but some, such as the 2nd ward, are very different. I think it will be interesting to see how the Mayor's 2015 numbers compare to his 2011 numbers and this will give a better apples to apples comparison.
I took the shapefiles for the 2011 citywide precincts and dumped that into some GIS software and ran an "Intersect" against the shapefiles for the current ward boundaries. I then used the percent of land area to assign a percentage to precincts that covered multiple wards. This is not exact for reasons I won't bore you with but it's pretty close. If you download the link above you'll see a summary sheet with the data I just described as well as a worksheet that shows the precinct by precinct analysis and also there's a sheet that shows the percentage of voters by race in each ward from census data. You may find any or all of that useful.
Both the City Clerk's race and the City Treasurer's race feature unopposed incumbents so the only actual citywide race is the Mayor's race.
Thanks to the team at Aldertrack, this cycle's indispensable daily must-read for all Chicago related election news, who teamed up with pollster Ogden & Fry for a regular tracking poll we have this graphic below showing how little traction the challengers have made.
Prior to the start of early voting the Mayor was polling in the low 40's, undecided was in 2nd place in the low 20's and the challengers were either in the teens or single digits. Since the first week of February when early voting started they have stopped offering undecided as an option and the Mayor is hovering right around 50% with his challengers well behind. Unless something really unexpected happens Emanuel will finish first on Tuesday and the main point of interest will be to see if he can beat the 50% + 1 threshold needed to avoid a runoff. (Emanuel avoided a runoff in 2011 with 55.28% of the vote)
I am going to spend some time over the weekend looking at building a dashboard for the Mayor's race. If I can make it work the way I hope I may turn it on for election night on Tuesday. I'm mainly interested in seeing in real time how the Mayor is doing against his runoff threshold and how each ward compares to his 2011 numbers. If I can build a straightforward easy to read dashboard that auto-updates every 2 minutes or so I'll make it live and distribute the link. Keep an eye on the Illinois Election Data Twitter account @ILElectionData and I'll try to let you know by Monday if I think I can do something for Tuesday night. (Why is there always a Hawks game on election night?)
The Chicago Board of Elections already has live links to their 2015 Municipal election results in their Election Results section. If you go to their website then click on Election Results you'll see that in the dropdown below you can select "2015 Municipal General - 2/24/15" as one of the options. From there you can select whatever race you want. None of the race pages have numbers yet, obviously, but it's nice that the links are live and available so that you know where you can find the results when they're available.
A note about Aldertrack: this group of political hobbyists have spent the last few months amassing a wealth of political information and making it widely available for little or no cost. You can buy their data-rich Racing Form for $10 (it's actually currently free until election day but if you find it useful you should give them some money). Also you can sign up to receive a free daily email that includes original reporting, polling, reports from the field and a news roundup for all the Chicago races. I highly recommend.
At at time when news organizations are downsizing both Aldertrack and the also terrific Illinois Observer have been very welcome additions to the Illinois political news scene. I am not affiliated with either organization.
Today outgoing Governor Pat Quinn signed two election bills into law, 1) HB4576, which passed both chambers during a special session on Thursday, that will allow for a special election for certain constitutional offices under certain circumstances and will result in a special election in 2016 for Comptroller to fill the remaining term of the late Judy Baar Topinka, and 2) SB172 the omnibus elections bill that was passed during veto session which has received the most attention for making same day registration permanent but also makes changes to vote by mail, early voting, college campus voting, vote counting procedures and election administrative changes.
For anyone who followed the lengthy vote counting process in the very close 2014 State Treasurer's race SB172 includes some changes that will make more vote counting information available for any similar situations in the future. Here is a rundown for both bills.
This bill is pretty straightforward, this about covers it:
Provides that if there are more than 28 months remaining in the term of office for Secretary of State, State Comptroller, Treasurer or Attorney General, the appointed office holder shall serve until the next general election, at which time the office shall be filled by special election for the remainder of the term. Provides for nominations for special elections to fill the unexpired term of a vacant office. Effective immediately.
As I mentioned before starting with the 2014 General Election the Illinois State Board of Elections has made precinct-level vote totals available for all races. The State Board offers flat files in csv format for each of the state's election authorities. I have assembled that data, formatted it and created some interesting tools.
First, to find this new data click on "ANALYSIS" and then "Precinct Level Election Results". Here is a rundown of what is available:
Also if you want to see Statewide Race by Districts in table format we have that too:
The statewide file is large, it's about 1.8 million records so some pages may take a few seconds to load. Also, when looking at statewide races by district (congressional, state senate, state rep) currently the only method available is the Simple Method which includes any precinct that is in whole or in part in the district. I hope to be able to add a more complex apportionment method where precincts that include more than one district have those votes apportioned to one district or another. For reasons I won't get into you can't guarantee that one method is more accurate than the other but the apportionment method is generally favored. If you'd like to develop your own methodology for evaluating the data I have made the raw and formatted data available for easy download so you can use it as you wish. In the meantime I wanted to publish what I had here so I could move on to finishing up the maps and then get the 2014 monthly campaign budgets done later this month.
Feel free to contact me with any questions at Scott.Kennedy (at) illinoiselectiondata.com or on Twitter at @ILElectionData.
UPDATE: 12/1 (5:00pm)
All of the spreadsheets in the Analysis section for the statewide races have been updated with the 2014 certified general election totals. Also, I have changed the way they are displayed and made it easier for you to take this info in widget format by adding "Copy this Widget" code for each, just copy and paste that into your own websites for your own use. For example here is the data by region - traditional collars that appeared here on the front page often leading up to the election:
End of update.
Tonight the Illinois State Board of Elections will meet to certify the election results. Once those results are made available I'll start work on updating the site with all of the data from the 2014 general election. I should have all of the election profiles and the analysis spreadsheets (updated) updated pretty quickly, probably sometime this week.
The maps will probably take a little longer. I only add new maps about every two years and it seems like each time I do Google has added some new security protocol to the batch update process and their documentation is rarely helpful. I will get them done as soon as I can.
Another fun new feature of this election could come soon as well:
10 ILCS 5/22-6 (b)
Beginning with the November 2014 general election and every primary, consolidated, general, and special election thereafter, within 52 days after each election, the State Board of Elections shall publish the precinct-by-precinct vote totals on its website and make them available in a downloadable form.
That should happen no later than around Christmas. I have no idea how the State Board plans to implement this but hopefully it should allow us to parse the data in all sorts of ways including a) seeing how the Governor's race candidates (or other races) performed by congressional, state house and state senate district and b) seeing how the statewide referenda fared in each district, etc. I have zero interest in replicating any functionality offered by the State Board of Elections but if all they offer is raw data and it is in some sort of format that will allow us to convert it into a usable database I'll probably spend some time building some functionality so that it can be parsed in various useful ways.
And then come January the final campaign finance reports for this election cycle will be filed for both federal and state candidates. Once those reports are filed I'll get to work on updating the budgets for each race. That is a lot of work and takes a long time so it won't happen right away.
Also now that the results are certified I may write some articles looking at the results in depth. There are a number of topics that interest me including following up on pre-election articles about the downstate vote, the Chicago vote (especially the African American vote in the Govenror's race), the death of the Cook County suburbs as a reliable bellwether, the stronger than expected performance of some of the challengers in the down ballot statewide races, that razor thin Treasurer's race, the competitive congressionals and turnout and vote share. I may not get to all of those topics or I may find that there is nothing new to add beyond what's already apparent on the surface but for now those are the topics that interest me and seem likely to offer greater insights once looked at more closely.
With at least 89 of the 110 election authorities showing totals that are considered final (mostly just small counties remaining) and the race having been conceded I have stopped updating the tracker.
It's impossible to say exactly how many votes were counted after election night but we can make some approximations. I didn't find the county by county totals for the Treasurer's race until sometime on the afternoon of Wednesday the 5th, and there are still some counties that haven't made final updates in our tracker but if you look at the list of updates I tracked there were at least 132,000 new votes over what was reported by the AP on election night. The tracker currently lists roughly 3.527 million total votes in this race so roughly about 4% of the total vote was reported after election night.
Despite the fact that this race was decided by the razor thin margin of just a few thousand votes (roughly one quarter of one percent) this late counted vote had a decided Democratic lean. Frerichs won this late counted vote 56%-40%-4%, a 16 point spread and in doing so gained an advantage of roughly 21,000 raw votes (at current count).
This leads to two questions:
Let's look at these questions by type of vote. First, why were there so many votes that were not counted until after election day?
Since vote by mail appears here to stay there will always be late arriving vote by mail ballots, although the amount will vary from election to election. Also, if same day registration is renewed then those votes will likely continue to be counted after election night. On the other hand you could potentially reduce the number of votes that need to be counted after election night by giving the clerks the power to count early vote and on time Vote By Mail votes somewhat earlier in the day on election day and better clerical work could reduce the number of traditional provisional ballots that need to be reviewed. So while there will continue to be votes that need to be counted after election night any number of changes could make that universe smaller than what we had in this election.
The next question has to do with partisan advantage. According to our non-exhaustive list of vote total changes since election night these votes had a 16 point advantage for Democrat Mike Frerichs (56%-40%-4%) despite the fact that this race overall had a razor thin margin of roughly one quarter of one percent. Can we expect the Democrats to have the same advantage among late arriving votes in future elections? Again, let's look at this question by each type of vote:
Some of the late arriving ballots will skew towards the Democrats, specifically the traditional provisional ballots and possibly the same day registration ballots (but not certainly) while the late arriving mail ballots could skew towards either party depending on the get out the vote programs of each party and their candidates. There is no guarantee that future elections will see late counted votes skewing towards the Democrats by 16 points as they apparently did in this Treasurer's race according to the best numbers we have available.
If a future election is as close as this one was at the end of election night we're just going to have to study it in detail again and see what characteristics that are unique to that election will have an impact on the final result.
UPDATE: 11/18 (10:00pm)
Final update for the night:
The Chicago numbers came in just before 9pm and as expected it boosted Frerichs lead by over 6,000 votes. I did a complete check of all the election authorities again and the only other update was Marion County. On my tracker I still have not yet confirmed the final totals for 50 of the state's 110 election authorities. Of that number 14 don't have websites and the other 36 just haven't updated their websites yet with final totals.
The current margin is Frerichs by 9,439 votes.
Reminder: I will be traveling all day tomorrow for work and won't be near a computer probably at all so I will have no new updates for you. I gave Rich Miller and his intern access to the Google Doc that powers the tracker so they may make updates or they may not. Either way I'll find some time on Thursday to update what I can.
End of Update.
UPDATE: 11/18 (6:30pm)
Here's where things stand right now. I have checked every publicly available source of election results since 5pm. As of this writing Frerichs has a lead of 3,259 votes but 52 of the state's 110 election authorities have not yet published what is clearly a final update. You can see which counties updated here.
The City of Chicago still has not updated, which is expected to produce a notable margin for Frerichs. The Cook County suburbs did make an update of 8,314 votes and Frerichs net gain there was 2,263 votes.
The most surprising news of the day came in the collar counties. In the 5 traditional collar counties overall Cross beat Frerichs 57%-38%. I expected that the updates in the 5 collar counties would give Cross the net gains he would need to keep this race close. That was not the case.
We haven't had a public update in McHenry County since 11/5 and did not get one so far today. DuPage had a large public update on 11/5 as well, both producing large margins for Cross. However in today's updates it was Frerichs who came out with a net gain in Lake and Will (472 and 376 votes respectively) while Cross' net gain today in DuPage was only 48 votes. The Kane County part outside of Aurora updated last night Cross gained 215 votes while the Aurora election authority update today gave a net gain to Frerichs of 235 votes. In these most recent collar county updates it was Frerichs who had a net gain, when I was expecting a large net gain for Tom Cross.
In the overall statewide vote the 5 collar counties made up 25% of the vote in this race, while the Cook County suburbs made up 19% of the total vote. Cross needed gains in the collar counties to blunt the gains by Frerichs in Cook County and what is expected in Chicago. Unless McHenry comes in with a very large update, that didn't happen.
This race has had many surprising developments. Now Tom Cross is going to need to find votes in surprising places to make up the current deficit.
End of Update.
UPDATE: 11/18 (10:00am)
I will update what I can when I can today. Keep track of which counties updated here.
End of Update.
UPDATE: 11/17 (9:00pm)
Here is what to expect for tomorrow and Wednesday. I expect the clerks will finalize and update the vote totals in each election authority tomorrow. The clerks will still have to complete the canvass and the totals won't yet be certified but at least we won't be expecting any further updates unless errors are found.
Technically the clerks have to wait to make sure no additional ballots come in the mail tomorrow so the updates are more likely to come later in the day. I will take a late lunch and check for updates during my lunch and then again after work.
On Wednesday I have to travel for work and will not be able to check for updates at all. I have given Rich Miller and his intern access to the Google Doc that is keeping track of these totals so they can make updates if needed.
Also, if you need to get updates faster anyone can copy/paste the data at the bottom of my tracker where it is listed by election authority and perform their own checks.
To make it easier to quickly see which totals are final I have them color coded. All the numbers for each election authority in blue are not yet final, the numbers in black are the numbers that are expected to be final.
For previous updates I've written a little blurb after each one explaining the update. Here is that history in table format. Since almost all 110 election authorities are expected to have an update in the next day or two I probably won't write up each one, I am going to try to keep this table up to date and just reference the table.
End of Update.
UPDATE: 11/17 (6:30pm)
First, thank you to Macoupin County Clerk Pete Duncan for emailing me his final county totals, that was very helpful. Second, if you look at the very bottom of the tracker where the vote totals by election authority are listed you'll notice that many figures are in blue. Anything in blue is not yet confirmed as final, anything in black is assumed to be final pending the canvassing and certification.
I called the 5 counties today that I promised on Friday I would. I also rechecked all the election authorities tonight, here are 12 updates:
The current margin is now Tom Cross by 674 votes.
End of Update.
Note: I originally wrote this on Thursday and planned to publish it on Friday morning. However on Thursday night news broke about some complications at the Chicago Board of Elections and I wanted to take some more time to think about it in that context. (you can read the CBOE's response to these issues here.) But then on Friday we saw some adjusted numbers in Wabash County when they found and corrected a previous error, a normal part of the process and I decided that it still made sense to try and explain this process and to point out that it has enough moving parts that simple errors are a normal part of the process and are not necessarily a sign of fraud or incompetence.
Important note: I am not an election attorney, this is for reference only.
We continue to see vote totals update in the Illinois State Treasurer's race despite the fact that the election was well over a week ago. Since this will go on for a little while I wanted to put together a quick primer with some key dates and explanations about the process plus a small FAQ for some of the more common questions.
11/18/2014 - Deadline to validate and count ballots.
Deadline for the county clerk or board of election commissioners to complete the tabulation of absentee ballots that were (1) postmarked by midnight preceding the opening of the polls on Election Day, and were received after the close of the polls on Election Day but not later than 14 days after the election, or (2) not postmarked at all, but did have a certification date prior to the Election Day on the certification envelope, and were received after the close of the polls on Election Day but not later than 14 days after the election. (10 ILCS 5/19-8)
11/25/2014 - Last day for canvassing.
Last day for canvassing election results by proper canvassing board (county canvassing board or board of canvassers). (10 ILCS 5/18A-15(a), 22-1)
11/30/2014 - tentative date of board meeting of the State Board of Elections to certify the results.
So 11/18 is the last day that the election authorities can accept valid Vote By Mail votes and then they are supposed to finalize their vote totals so the canvass can begin. The canvass must end by 11/25 and by that date the election authorities are supposed to certify their results and submit the certified results to the State Board of Elections and the Illinois SBE is tentatively set to meet on 11/30 to certify the results.
Most counties should have their final updated results sometime by the end of the day on 11/18, although some counties have said that their updated results would not be made publicly available until 11/19. Either way, unless any errors are found during the canvass the final updated totals from each election authority should be available on the 18th - 19th.
Why are only some counties still counting votes while others are not?
This is inaccurate. Every county and municipal election authority can still receive valid, legal votes so every election authority in the state is still going through the process of potentially receiving and counting votes. Some county and municipal election authorities (such as Chicago and Cook County) have been giving regular updates throughout which is why they have received so much attention while most have not provided any new updates since election night. For example, this is what Sangamon County lists on the top of their election night election results page:
MAILED ABSENTEE BALLOTS RECEIVED AFTER 7PM 11/4/2014 AND PROVISIONAL BALLOTS WILL NOT BE INCLUDED IN THESE TOTALS UNTIL AFTER NOVEMBER 18, 2014.
This is the most common method, most counties are not updating their totals with these new additional votes and will not have any further update until 11/18.
For example, see this article on the Champaign News-Gazette about the additional votes expected to be made public in the counties of east central Illinois.
This happens in every election every year. The results announced on election night are not final and the totals that get certified about a month later always include additional votes. Usually the various races are not close enough to be affected by these additional votes which is why most people are unaware of how this process works but everything that is taking place right now in the vote counting process is perfectly normal and typical.
Why is it so complicated to count all the votes?
There are 5 different ways a person can vote and the clerks have to manage and track all of these different types of votes and then take steps to ensure that valid registered voters voted no more than once. This requires that they keep and manage very detailed records yet at the same time they need to protect the integrity of the secret ballot so they have to protect each voter's privacy as well, that is very challenging. Then when it comes time to tabulate the final totals they need to count them by precinct despite the fact that many votes (early vote, vote by mail) were not made in the actual precinct on election day. It would be very easy to make simple mistakes so the clerks take careful steps to ensure they get it right.
Here are all the different types of votes:
What votes are included in the publicly available totals?
In most cases the following types of votes are included in the totals that are already publicly available from each election authority:
- all early votes made prior to election day.
- all election day votes made in each precinct on election day.
- all Vote By Mail votes that were received by the election authority by election day.
What votes are still being counted and/or are not yet publicly available?
In most cases these types of votes are not yet included in the publicly available totals:
- valid Vote By Mail ballots that were received after election day. (a very few election authorities have made these totals available via updates, but very few)
- provisional ballots. Also, I believe that the clerks are treating the same day registration ballots as provisional ballots so those votes are not yet updated as well.
When will all the votes be counted and the totals publicly available?
11/18 is the last day that the election authorities can accept valid Vote By Mail votes and then they are supposed to finalize their vote totals so the canvass can begin. The canvass must end by 11/25 and by that date the election authorities are supposed to certify their results and submit the certified results to the State Board of Elections and the Illinois SBE is tentatively set to meet on 11/30 to certify the results.
UPDATE: 11/15 (11:00am)
I checked every election authority that has public data on a website this morning and the only further update was in Clark county where 3 new votes were added, all for Tom Cross. The new margin is Cross by 381 votes.
Also, Tom Kacich of the Champaign News-Gazette has some more information about the votes expected to be made public early next week in east central Illinois.
Later this afternoon I will have some info on what to expect this upcoming week when the clerks finalize their totals.
End of Update.
UPDATE: 11/14 (5:00pm)
I was told about some additional counties that had updated numbers, here is what I have found:
I will check everything again most likely tomorrow. I will also put up an explanation about what to expect for next week.
End of Update.
UPDATE: 11/14 (1:00pm)
I was told that Hancock County had updated numbers so I called during lunch and sure enough they do. They added 511 votes over what was previously publicly available and Cross gained 127 votes. They also said this was their final count and would have no further updates. The current margin is Tom Cross by 664 votes.
I will check everything again either tonight or more likely tomorrow.
End of Update.
UPDATE: 11/13 (6:00pm)
I went through all of the election authorities that have a website and data again tonight and here is the update:
The current margin is Tom Cross by 537 votes.
End of Update.
UPDATE: 11/12 (9:00pm)
I went through all of the election authorities that have a website and data again tonight and 1 vote was updated. One vote. It was in Ogle County and it went to Frerichs so the difference changed by 1 vote, now it's Tom Cross by 491 votes.
End of Update.