What to Know on Election Night in Chicago


It’s closing in on Election Day in Chicago and the two candidates, Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, are facing off for Mayor. Voters will cast ballots on Tuesday to determine who succeeds outgoing incumbent Lori Lightfoot. As the race continues to intensify and the final results approach, many in the city are wondering what to expect on election night.

The Associated Press (AP) will declare a winner in the race for Chicago mayor. The AP will also tabulate 14 races for Chicago alderperson but will not call winners in those races until after the results are certified.

The AP does not make projections and will only declare a winner when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap. For clarity, the AP will analyze each update in the citywide vote count and then analyze how the candidates are doing in areas they won in the February election. The Associated Press may call a race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less if they determine the lead is too large for a recount and legal challenge to change the outcome.

Voting is open to all Chicago voters, who can register on election day. As of Sunday, 246,188 voters had cast advance ballots. Mail-in ballots can arrive as late as April 18 and be counted so long as they are postmarked by election day. It is expected that the city will provide some updates shortly after the polls close, though ward-level results are expected to be released around 1 a.m.

Vallas has positioned himself as a moderate and has the backing of the Chicago police union and major business groups, while Johnson is a former teacher and union organizer backed by the Chicago Teachers Union.

The Chicago Board of Elections is the official organization responsible for conducting elections in Chicago. It is managed by the Board of Elections Commissioners, a three-member body appointed by the Mayor. The Board’s aim is to ensure that elections are conducted in a fair, secure and professional manner, is transparent and open to the public. The Board of Elections works in conjunction with the individual for-profit and non-profit organizations that participate in the Election Day process and the smooth functioning of the election process.

Paul Vallas has had a long and distinguished career in government and as a civic leader. He served as President of Roosevelt University and CEO of the Chicago Public Schools, and was a key figure in the reform of the Chicago Police department. Vallas is also known for his dedication to public service, with initiatives such as stabilizing the Chicago Public Schools budget, championing the expansion of early childhood education, and pushing for ethics reforms and greater transparency in government.

Brandon Johnson is a longtime public servant who is a current Cook County Board Commissioner in Chicago and has served in the Illinois Senate. He began his career working as an organizer with various unions, giving him a wealth of experience and knowledge in the labor sector. Johnson is a progressive reformer, who has long advocated investments in public health, public safety, education, and infrastructure. He is a champion of the working class, and believes in building an economy that works for everyone.

Tuesday’s election is an important one for the city of Chicago, and whatever the outcome, it will have a lasting impact on the city’s future. All eyes are on the results and the AP will provide timely updates and declare a winner when it’s determined that there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidate to close the gap.