Volunteers get out vote in Illinois and Ind.

November 1, 2008 4:32:22 PM PDT
With three days until the election, senators Barack Obama and John McCain campaigned across key battleground states Saturday.

Also, at least two events Saturday, one in Illinois and one in Indiana, were designed to encourage registered citizens to vote.

Early voting continues in northwest Indiana, but it is over in Illinois. So, some Illinois voters were casting their votes by in-person absentee ballot over the weekend.

Volunteers were doing what they could to get out the vote and make sure those somewhat new to the political process joined in.

"The issues that are important to immigrants are going to be on the agendas, and that crosses party lines. Any party can take those issues into their campaigns," said Elianne Farhat of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.

On Chicago's far North Side, organizers hoped to mobilize most of the area's 140,000 naturalized citizens to get to the polls election day with door-to-door community canvasses and voting information leaflets.

The same push was going on in Indiana. Members of the Service Employees International Union hit neighborhoods trying to get first-time voters to commit to heading to the polls Tuesday. The group is offering non-partisan information and election day transportation, while encouraging eligible Hoosier residents to vote early, which can still be done until Monday.

"I've been coming out every Saturday and getting people registered and getting the first-time voters ready, getting those out, too," said volunteer Flora Johnson.

Although a record number of Illinois residents took advantage of being able to cast their ballots before election day, there are still those, driven by the excitement of the presidential race or a sense of duty, to vote now. Database consultant Mark Chambers drove back to Chicago to vote by in-person absentee ballot, just hours before he has to fly out for his next job assignment.

"This is an important election. I believe that if we don't vote, we don't have a right to complain or make comments about our economic situation. So, everybody needs to vote, no matter what their situation," said Chambers.

Chicago and Cook County election officials say because early turnout numbers were high, lines at polling places could be shorter election day. Still, officials say they are prepared to deal with a higher voter turnout with predictions holding around 80 percent.


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