CHICAGO — Paul Vallas and Brandon Johnson have advanced to the Chicago mayoral runoff.

What is a runoff election?

Chicago’s municipal elections are non-partisan events. So while other elections, such as the race for President of the United States, involve primaries to whittle down potential candidates, the Election Day ballot in Chicago regularly includes races with a multitude of candidates.

Whichever candidate gets more than 50% of total votes cast is the winner. However when there are more than two candidates, it’s possible no one reaches 50% and thus no one wins. Enter the runoff election.

When the aforementioned scenario occurs, the top two vote-getters, regardless of how many candidates there were, face-off one more time. This narrowing to two candidates all but ensures someone will exceed 50% of the vote total, and a winner declared.

This has happened in the two most recent races for Mayor of Chicago (2015 and 2019).

If needed, when would Chicago’s runoff election happen?

Should there be one, or more, Feb. 28 municipal election races without a winning candidate, the Chicago Board of Elections is prepared. They have already schedule the related runoff election for Tuesday, April 4.

How is a runoff different from a regular election?

In many respects the voting process is no different between a regular election and a runoff election. Mail-in-voting, early voting, and Election Day voting all take place. However there is a slight difference in timelines.

By law early voting is authorized up to 40 days prior to an election. In the case of an April 4 runoff, that would be Feb. 23. Thus the city’s election officials have stated, “The Board will commence early voting for April runoff and supplementary elections, if needed, as soon as possible after proclamation of official results for the February municipal elections. Check the Board’s website for updates.”

When will we know if a runoff election needs to take place? And what elected positions would be included?

The short answer is: as soon as the Board of Elections can validate the Feb. 28 election results. By statute they have 21 days following an election to proclaim the results, so no later than Mar. 21.

When does the new term begin for this race’s elected officials?

Whether a candidate wins in the regular election or the runoff, they will begin their term in office on the same date.

For members of the police District Councils that will be Tuesday, May 2.

For Mayor, City Clerk, City Treasurer, and Alderpersons that will be Monday, May 15 at noon.