At the beginning of 2012, the City Council approved a new ward map. Sadly, the city’s website hasn’t gotten the memo yet.
With voting for the upcoming mayoral and aldermanic election underway, voters will be referring to the maps of their wards more than usual. What ward they’re in won’t only determine their polling place, but who they vote for in the aldermanic race.
In fact, the wards have changed so drastically that many Chicagoans are in different wards as of 2015.
But looking at the City of Chicago website, a voter wouldn’t know this.
One of the resources linked to on multiple pages (like this one and this one) is a map of the old wards. The first tip-off? It says “Copyright October 2007” on every page, years before the new ward boundaries were even drawn up.
Another City of Chicago website link goes to form where you can enter your address and, voila, it tells you what ward you’re in. Sadly, this form spits out results for the old ward map.
This appears to be intentional. An email to the City of Chicago website garnered the following reply: “Officially the City of Chicago will not switch the maps until after the 2015 Election and the Elective Officials are sworn in office in the month of May.”
The quote has a point: technically, constituents are theoretically being served by the aldermen in their old wards until May. In the email, the city also pointed out that while the City of Chicago website has yet to update their ward maps, the Board of Election Commissioners website is up-to-date.
For some voters, this could still cause complications. Google a variation of “Chicago ward map” and the top results are often the City of Chicago website.
Let’s say you live above Windy City Mufflers & Breaks at 6245 N Milwaukee Avenue. Before 2015, you’d have been in ward 45. As of 2015, you’re in ward 39. Sadly, most lists of polling places are listed by ward numbers, using the new ward map. If you refer to the City of Chicago’s resources to find out what ward you live in, there’s a possibility you’ll end up at the wrong polling place.
Need an accurate map? Try the Chicago Tribune’s interactive map. It displays your old ward and your new ward side-by-side.
Ultimately, even with the drastic changes to Chicago’s ward boundaries, this will most likely only affect a small number of voters.