Faith leaders aim to double voter turnout in April 4 election

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Just 32% of registered voters cast a ballot in the the first round of voting in Chicago’s municipal elections Feb. 28th. For those who have fought for voting rights, this percentage is unacceptable – which is why faith and community leaders will gather Sunday in a major push to double this turnout in the April 4th runoff.

Rev. Al Sharpton will be in Chicago to deliver the keynote address at Sunday’s event, which will take place at New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, 4301 W. Washington Blvd.

The church’s senior pastor, Marshall E. Hatch Sr., spoke to the historical significance of the April 4th election.

“We are calling for everyone in our community to vote by April 4th to honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated on this date 55 years ago … This is a generational election that will determine the direction of our city for years to come.”

Rev. Stephen Thurston II of New Covenant Baptist Church added: “If the West and the South sides show up to vote, we will ensure that our communities will not be left behind.”

The mayoral runoff features Brandon Johnson, a Cook County commissioner and Austin resident, and former CPS CEO Paul Vallas – the two top voter getters out of nine candidates on the Feb. 28th ballot. Other races up for grabs next month include the 29th Ward aldermanic seat, where incumbent Ald. Chris Taliaferro faces challenges CB Johnson.

The NAACP, which has been on the front lines for civil rights and voting rights since 1909, also will take part in Sunday’s get-out-the-vote event. Chicago Westside Branch NAACP President Karl Brinson said, “We can’t continue to lose hope; we have to get out and vote.”

Rev. Ira Acree, senior pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church, urged Chicagoans to exercise their fundamental right to vote.

“In the spirit of the late Ed Gardner, who helped elect Mayor Washington in 1983 by funding a massive voter registration campaign, we hope to use our platforms to inspire thousands to vote in this critical election of 2023,” Acree said.

He and Sharpton will present a posthumous trailblazer award to the family of Mr. Gardner. The co-founder of Soft Sheen products died Monday at the age of 98.

As Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell wrote, Gardner was more than a Black leader; he was a foot soldier.

During Harold Washington’s campaign to become the city’s first Black mayor of Chicago, Gardner backed up his support with a contribution of nearly $250,000 to fund a voter registration drive that helped get Washington elected.

Early voting began March 20 and continues until Election Day, April 4th. During early voting, Chicagoans can go to any early voting site to cast a ballot — it doesn’t matter which ward they live in.

There are two Downtown early voting sites – located at 191 N. Clark St. and at 69 W. Washington St. – are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays through March 26.

The two sites will stay open until 7 p.m. Monday-Friday from March 27-31 and again on April 3.

In each of the 50 wards, one will be open during early voting. These sites are open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays through April 4.

The West Side locations include:

  • Ward 28, Westside Learning Center, 4624 W. Madison St.
  • Ward 29, Amundsen Park, 6200 W. Bloomingdale Ave.
  • Ward 37, West Chicago Library, 4856 W. Chicago Ave.

Click here for more information about early voting.

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