SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Voter turnout in Illinois was around 49.5 percent during this month’s election.

That ranks it as the third lowest turnout for an election in the past 40 years.

Midterms almost always have lower turnouts, but UIS professor emeritus Kent Redfield said negative campaigns could have also had an impact.

“There was a lot of negative campaigning primarily from the independent expenditure group that was supporting. I’m sorry, there was a lot of negative campaigning,” Redfield said. “That was coming from an independent expenditure group that was, you know, supporting senator bailey by attacking governor Pritzker. And so there certainly is some data that indicates that negative campaigning does depress turnout.”

While turnout was down, the number of people who voted by mail were up by almost double. When all ballots are finalized in December, Dietrich said anywhere from 15 to 20 percent of ballots cast in the election will be from mail in ballots.

Election officials believe that trend is here to stay.

“An awful lot of voters have signed up to be on a permanent vote by mail list where they’ll always cast their, their ballot by mail,” Illinois State Board of Elections spokesperson Matt Dietrich said. “And I think that’s going to be one of the residual effects from from the pandemic election.”

High mail in turnout helped offset problems dems would see from low overall turnout.
Getting people to cast their votes early was a crucial part of their campaign strategy,

“It also could indicate that, you know, they were out there doing their job, and there wasn’t much of a campaign to drive, you know, republican voters, you know, to the, to the polls,” Redfield said.