Many polling places were as deserted as graveyards Tuesday as Mayor Richard M. Daley was expected to ride multiracial support to re-election as the city's chief executive.

Tom Leach, a spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, said at midmorning it appeared only about 44 percent of registered voters would cast ballots."That would be a record low for this type of election," Leach said. "It's not unexpected. We had projected 43 percent."

Only scattered problems and complaints were reported in the early hours of voting. Interest was centered in the 18 wards with aldermanic runoffs and even in many of those, turnout was disappointing.

With Daley far ahead in the polls and his challengers unable to develop any compelling issues, voter interest throughout this year's mayoral campaign has been low. Daley even scrubbed most of his paid advertising and redirected some of his campaign funds to aldermanic candidates he supports.

While elections officials looked at a record low turnout, Daley supporters were hoping for a rec-ord margin of victory over Harold Washington Party candidate R. Eugene Pincham and Republican George Gottlieb.

Daley, a former state senator and Cook County state's attorney, is seeking his first full term in the office his late father held longer than any other person. He was elected two years ago to fill out the last two years of the term of Harold Washington, the city's first black mayor, who died in office.

Daley has worked hard to avert the racial hostility that dominated Chicago politics after Washington's election in 1983. His efforts were capped by his endorsement Monday on the front page of the Chicago Defender, the city's main black newspaper.