D65 Referendum Precinct Vote Breakdown Shows Split Across Wards

The failed referendum carried in some wards but not in others.

Precinct election results released Wednesday by the Cook County Clerk’s Office revealed that the rift over District 65’s tended to follow ward boundary lines.

The , which asked voters to approve a $48.2-million bond issuance to fund  ($20.6 million) and pay for various improvements to other Evanston school buildings ($27.6 million), was opposed by a 55 of voters in Tuesday’s primary election.

Still, the referendum found majority approval in three Evanston wards.

As one might expect, the ballot item carried most favor among voters in the city’s 5th Ward, where 67.3 percent of Tuesday's voters supported the referendum. In both the 2nd and 8th Wards, nearly 52 percent of cast votes were in support of the referendum.

However, in Evanston’s 6th and 7th Wards -- the city’s two northernmost wards -- the referendum failed to carry much favor, gaining only 34.4 and 36.3 percent support respectively.


Tuesday’s poor voter turnout might have also affected referendum results, as 31,190 of Evanston’s 44,387 registered voters failed to show up to the ballot box. In the three wards where the referendum found the most support, nearly 10,000 registered voters did not participate in the primary election (2,724 in the 5th Ward, which had among the lowest turnout of any ward).

Conversely, the 6th and 7th wards had the two highest percentages for voter turnout in the city.

For a more detailed breakdown of election results by ward, see the table below.

Ward % 'Yes' %    'No' Total 'Yes' Total 'No' Total
Votes Registered
Voters % of Registered Who Voted 1 49.8% 50.2% 497 500 997 4,433 22.5% 2 52.2% 47.8% 672 615 1,287 4,843 26.6% 3 47.2% 52.8% 773 865 1,638 5,676 28.9% 4 44.7% 55.3% 638 790 1,428 4,919 29.0% 5 67.3% 32.7% 540 262 802 3,526 22.7% 6 34.3% 65.6% 909 1,736 2,645 6,500 40.7% 7 36.3% 63.7% 647 1,137 1,784 5,086 35.1% 8 52.0% 48.0% 603 557 1,160 4,625 25.1% 9 49.1% 50.9% 715 741 1,456 4,779 30.5%

Data from the Cook County Clerk's Office website.

Candace Hill March 22, 2012 at 06:04 PM
There's math editing error here. 67.3 percent of those voting in the 5th ward voted yes in the election. That is not 67.3 of the registered voters in the Ward, and certainly not 64.5% of the residents in the Ward. The chart show correctly that 22.7% of the 5th Wards registered voters came out, nearly the lowest number.
Jordan Graham March 22, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Thanks for your comment, Candace. My editor and I both checked the story and we don't see a math error. We did change the language a little bit to make it even more clear that we're referring to the percent of people who cast ballots on Tuesday when we cite the 67.3 percent stat. And we added in a line about the particularly low turnout in the 5th ward. You're correct that that's worth highlighting in this story.
Bill G March 22, 2012 at 09:22 PM
I'm sorry but this referendum was not approved by any ward. Voters that abstain was just as good a "NO" vote. So there was 86.5% - No and only 13.5% Yes across Evanston Voters.
Lisa G. March 23, 2012 at 12:58 PM
Interesting that those voting no in highest numbers were in the 6th and 7th wards where the schools that kids in the 5th ward are currently bused. Seems like they don't want the schools re-segregated.
Martha King March 23, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I bet if desegregation was achieved by busing kids from the 6th and 7th ward south they'd vote very differently.
John J. Walsh March 23, 2012 at 03:32 PM
With a majority of voters in two-thirds of Evanston's wards voting No on the District 65 referendum, I'm at a loss to understand why Jordan Graham and his editor decided to zero in on the No votes in the 6th and 7th Wards. I hope they're not suggesting a racist story line in this vote. With a tip of the hat to Samuel Johnson, Mr. Graham, racism is also the last refuge of a scoundrel. The proposed 5th Ward school would be a big step toward re-segregating Evanston schools--not a viable goal or result.
Candace Hill March 23, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Your correction works, and it's an easy error to make on the run, but there's a big difference between voters and residents. We have been told for years that the 5th Ward families hated busing, desperately missed the old Foster school, and deeply desired a 5th Ward school of their own. Large numbers of community members have come to meetings and accused policy makers of racism and worse. It took a lot of time and money and political creativity to put a new school proposal on the ballot and not only was the turnout low in the neighborhood, it was very low. I believe that this was very much a pocket-book issue. The New Trier school district couldn't get a new school referendum passed a few years ago either, and those folks have a whole lot more money than D65. People in the 5th Ward are also homeowners and also pay property taxes. I just think it very interesting how many them just didn't come out to vote on this issue at all.
Jordan Graham March 23, 2012 at 03:52 PM
Hello Mr. Walsh, Thank you for commenting. Well I appreciate you taking the time to write in, nowhere in the story did I make any mention of racist motivations. All I did in this piece was find the precinct results, break them down by ward, convert them into various statistic for readers and then analyze those statistics. The 6th and 7th Wards were mentioned simply because the referendum received nearly 10 percentage points less support in those two wards than the Evanston average. If mentioning those wards brings race to the issue, then that is a connection you made as a reader, but not a causal relationship I implied at all as the article's author. If it were the 1st, 3rd, 4th or 9th Wards that populated either end of the voting spectrum, they would have been mentioned in the article. As the new D65 school was pitched as a '5th Ward school', ward boundary lines became tied up in the issue, and because of this, I felt it important to create this article. Best, Jordan Graham
John J. Walsh March 23, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Mr. Graham-- I did not say you "mentioned" racist motivation in your article. But your story carries implications, whether intended or naive. Ending it by stating, "...the 6th and 7th wards had the two highest percentages for voter turnout in the city" plainly pits the north end of the city against the central and west wards (2d and 5th) and the 8th in the south. Your story did not once mention the 1st, 3d, 4th, or 9th wards, but simply includes them on the table. It's a shallow "analysis," coming three days after the vote. Pitting the north end wards against the rest of the city as you have has never been a winning strategy for news reporters or anyone else in this community. I'll look forward to more balanced and insightful reporting in the future.
Jordan Graham March 23, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Mr. Walsh -- Again, I appreciate you writing in. The article was released two days after the vote because the results showing a breakdown by precinct were not released until Wednesday. I can assure you that my intention was not to pit any part of Evanston against any other part. News coverage showing election results by county, precinct or ward are common. My analysis was not to explain why this happened, but simply to point out what did happen. Clearly, based on the results, people from different parts of the city felt differently about the referendum, otherwise the percentages would have been constant throughout. I feel that one of the jobs of a reporter is to inform people of various trends that occur so that they can engage in larger discussions and find solutions to disagreements. In this case, much of the city is participating in a discussion of why the referendum was voted down. If those reasons have anything to do with where people live, then I think it is important to address them, rather than shy away from those topics. I had no intention of telling people what to think, but I do want to provide them with solid information to inform them in their decision making processess. Best, Jordan
Jordan Graham March 23, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Additionally, I wrote another followup to the D65 referendum vote, which you can read here if you like: http://evanston.patch.com/articles/planning-for-new-school-to-continue-despite-failed-referendum
John J. Walsh March 23, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Mr. Graham, I saw your follow-up--a good piece, I think, but undone by a less insightful story today. As I said, I look forward to your more balanced and insightful reporting in the future.
Lonson Williams March 23, 2012 at 07:01 PM
One thing that accounts for the poor turnout in the Fifth Ward is that there isn't much interest in the issue among most residents. If you look at where many of the more vocal advocates live--like the leadership of the Evanston NAACP, the person who made the films for the advocacy group, and some commenters on this site--many of them come from outside the ward. They don't have the ties needed to get people to the polling place. The idea for the school didn't come out of the community's own organizing. Most people here recognize that it was an idea from the Superintendent. He doesn't have much confidence in the ward due to the poor handling of many issues over the years. People simply don't trust him. I live in the ward and most of my neighbors were both skeptical of the administration's motives and folks who own homes are concerned about the greater tax burden. There were also parts of the Fifth Ward that were written out of the new school's attendance map which probably led to low turnout.
Lonson Williams March 23, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Jordan, Good story. I really don't know where John J. Walsh is coming from. You were pointing out where the outliers were based on percentage of voting. To draw some idea that a "racist story line" was being pushed is bizarre.
michael March 23, 2012 at 08:47 PM
I would like to say I have a number of problems with this issue. A new teacher contract is coming up and the costs with that have not been factored in to this tax increase. General operating expenses of a new school also were never factored in. I never wnet to school in District 65 with a person of color until I attended Skiles Jr. H. S and felt this was a mistake, as grew up, but do we now resegregate? Too many unanswered questions to vote yes!
Thomas Colfax March 23, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Explaining the statistical makeup of the voter turnout does not "plainly pit" any ward against any other ward. Mr. Graham has written a news article -- not an op-ed or an investigative analysis -- that reports the voter breakdown on a recent referendum. Mr. Walsh clearly chose to read the data a certain way and try to stir up an issue here, but that doesn't make it anything other than factual data. Creating false tensions by playing on race is never a winner strategy, Mr. Walsh.
annie March 23, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Martha, I agree with you. I said it before and I will say it again: bus every kid in Evanston to a different school than the one in their community, there would be an uproar! "not my kid". I look around Evanston and what do I see? I see all kinds of people in each and every neighborhood. Anyone can call it deseg/seg/racism. I guess my thoughts are "whats in the best interests of the children"? What if Willard, Lincolnwood, or Orrington were closed in the 60s and the kids that lived in those wards got bused around? And finally, when the kids are sitting in classrooms with buckets to catch the water from the leaking roof, you will know why..... The buildings ARE old. So, its true the School Board, parents, need to do some work, and someday, it will pass. The school buildings do need to be maintained, if they are not, they WILL fall apart. Good schools and even the buildings keep property values up. It makes people "want" to move to a community.


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