The polls are open and Chicagoans are heading to their polling places today in what is almost certainly a two-part process to elect a new mayor for the nation’s third largest city.

Fourteen candidates are vying for the top job — a historically large field. If no candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters face off again on April 2.

Voters will also select a city clerk, treasurer and aldermen in all 50 of the city’s wards.

Here’s what you need to know before voting in Chicago.

Follow Chicago Tribune reporters today as we cover the municipal election with live stories, photos and tweets:

1:51 p.m. ‘I didn’t get to do as much research as I usually do’

Darlan Gordon, 56, is recovering from surgery but that didn’t stop him from voting.“I just came out anyway,” Gordon said.

He was among the 73 residents from the 5th Ward who had voted just after 1 p.m. at the South Shore Fine Arts Academy in the Grand Crossing neighborhood. The sound of children screaming and playing instruments could be heard from the polling place that was mostly empty.

Even though he felt dizzy, Gordon said he believed it was important to vote because of issues in the community involving police and housing. But his medical problems stopped him from doing thorough research on all the mayoral candidates.

“It was a lot,” Gordon said. “I didn’t get to do as much research as I usually do.”

–Elvia Malagon

1:26 p.m. Chicago headed for record-low turnout

Chicago was on pace Tuesday afternoon toward a record low turnout of about 30 percent in the historic 14-way mayoral race.

Without a last minute surge of voting, that anemic total be the lowest ever recorded in a city election since 2007, when Richard M. Daley won his sixth and final term.

Roughly 303,000 voters — about 19 percent of registered voters — had cast ballots as of 1 p.m.

“We’re not seeing significant turnout,” election board spokesman Jim Allen told reporters.

Many of the outsider candidates have noted throughout the race that they believe low turnout favors establishment candidates, such as Bill Daley, Toni Preckwinkle, Gery Chico and Susana Mendoza.

“There’s clearly, beyond the polls, there are actual voters who are undecided,” he said. “We hope voters make up their minds and participate. We still have another six hours to go before the polls close, but it appears some voters are either just disengaged or not willing to make a decision until they know who’s in the runoff, assuming there is a runoff.”

Both she and Wann said they wanted to see increased funding of Chicago Public Schools. Wann’s 14-year-old daughter Mia Meza loves robotics and engineering, but her school doesn’t have any programs that would help her explore that enthusiasm. Wann and Ridge pay for her to join weekend coding classes and robotics clubs.

“We’re lucky in the fact that we can afford to pay for those things,” Ridge said. “But how many kids whose parents can’t afford (extra classes) have this interest in something that’s going to be fueling our economy … that can’t get access to these programs to learn? That’s not fair.

“Lilian Salvador, 73, said she wants to see change and voted for Garry McCarthy for mayor. “I know he’s not going to win, but still,” she said. She’s voting for Ald. Deb Mell, 33rd, for re-election because “she’s doing a good job.”

–Anna Kim

12:55 p.m. ‘This directly impacts me, I live here’

A trickle of voters stopped Tuesday morning into Cornerstone Baptist Church in the city’s Woodlawn neighborhood, and Carolyn Little thought the turnout wasn’t good enough.

“If you are consistent (about voting), someone is going to hear you and take you seriously,” Little said.

She was the 38th voter just before noon in the church’s gymnasium that was converted into a polling place for the 20th Ward. She thinks the city needs a change in leadership. She especially would like to see local leaders tackle gun laws.

“To me, everyone wants to put a Band-Aid on it,” Little said about the country’s gun laws.

John Brady, 53, who also voted in the 20th Ward, said crime was a top concern that influenced his vote. He also wants to see an elected school board rather than appointed.

“I feel like it’s really important to vote in a mayoral election because this is the person who is going to be at the helm of our city,” Brady said. “This directly impacts me, I live here in the city so it’s important that I have a say or a vote in who runs it.”

Woodlawn voter David Lubin, 38, said Tuesday’s election was important because there wasn’t an incumbent running for mayor or for alderman in the 20th Ward. Ald. Willie Cochran is not seeking re-election and is facing federal corruption charges.

Jack Balch, 21, said he voted in the 20th ward for Jeanette Taylor who is running for alderman because she aligned with two issues the University of Chicago student was most concerned about.

“I was really interested in the issues around the legalization of marijuana and the (Community Benefits Agreement) for the Obama library,” Balch said.

–Elvia Malagon

12:53 p.m. Anemic turnout for mayoral election

Including early voting, vote-by-mail and Election Day voting, just under 279,000 voters had cast ballots as of noon on Tuesday, reflecting what’s so far been an anemic turnout total of 17.6 percent, according to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

–Juan Perez Jr.

“Even if you’re voting for one of the 14 that may not win, I think that you’re still making a statement. You’re saying what you value and what you stand for and I think that’s really important,” said Pryor.

“It’s one thing to say all these things on social media,” said Pryor. “It’s another to take time out of your day and walk in here.”

The taproom would usually be open later in the day for voters to stop in for a beer, but it’s closed for refurbishing, said Emily Cripe, the brewery’s director of human resources. The company is still happy to host voting.

“A lot of our employees are pretty civically minded,” said Cripe. “It feels like the right thing to do.”

Cripe, 40, of Avondale, said she voted in the 35th Ward this morning.

“I really like to vote on Election Day,” she said. “All the races this time around are important to me.”

–By Morgan Greene

11 a.m. Voting totals

By 11 a.m., about 118,000 people had voted on Election Day in Chicago, according to the Board of Elections—about 7.4 percent of Chicago’s registered voters. That’s on top of more than 125,000 who voted early—for a little more than 15 percent of voters who had cast ballots by about 11 a.m.

10:10 a.m. Avondale voters thinking about taxes

Andrew Georgis, 38, brought his son Miles Georgis, 1, to the polling place at the Windy City Fieldhouse, 2367 W. Logan Blvd. in Avondale. Both the aldermanic candidates in his ward, Daniel Laspata and Proco “Joe” Moreno, have both had their scandals, which hasn’t made it easy for him to decide who to vote for, Georgis said. Ultimately, he decided to vote for Laspata.

“I just kind of had enough of Moreno,” Georgis said. “He seems like a kind of cartoonish, corrupt alderman.”

Stuart Goldberg, 37, is a regular voter in Chicago municipal elections, he said.

“I’m doing my civic duties,” he said. He owns Fullerton Pawners, a pawn shop in Belmont Cragin. He doesn’t want his property taxes to increase, which is one of the reasons he’s voting for mayoral candidate Jerry Joyce.

Rosa Ramirez, 72, a retired school principal, also doesn’t want her property taxes to go up. She said it can be difficult to manage on a fixed income. She started voting in municipal elections when she was 25, because when she was young, “nobody thought anything would change.”

“We have to get out there and care about the city, care about what’s going to happen,” Ramirez said. Now with so many people running for mayor, there are more candidates who align with voters’ interests, she said.

“You have an opportunity to choose somebody that’s not governed by ‘the machine’ and maybe make Chicago a better place,” Ramirez said.

–Anna Kim

9:42 a.m. ‘Worried thinking about that runoff election’

Nureen Ansari said she has worked at the polls for years. This year she is an election coordinator in the city’s 39th Ward at Volta Elementary.

“I think I’m just into the whole long day rush thing,” said Ansari, 22, of Albany Park.

Ansari voted early. Police justice was one of the issues she thought about as she filled out her ballot.

“I’d like there to be more accountability,” she said. “They should be questioned about their actions, maybe held accountable for what they’ve done.”

Only a few voters trickled through the school Tuesday morning as snow coated the sidewalks outside, but Ansari said there were more voters than she expected. Almost 50 people had cast votes by 9 a.m.

“Mostly I’m just worried thinking about that runoff election because there are so many candidates,” Ansari said.

–Morgan Greene

Spencer, Nguyen, and Gale Miller, 49, the coordinator, all worked together for the first time as judges at the precinct in November.

Terry Watson, 40, said he has voted in every municipal election since he was old enough to vote. He wants to see change and hopes that voting for Lori Lightfoot will send a message.

“We’re paying for other people’s mismanagement,” Watson said. “If people aren’t held responsible, it continues.”

–Anna Kim

8 a.m. Candidates for mayor raised $28.9 million

Chicago’s 14 mayoral candidates have raised a collective total of $28.9 million. Here is a breakdown of how much each has raised as of Feb. 25 and the top donor to each campaign.


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