Last day to early vote in Illinois

CHICAGO Election officials estimated that about 700,000 people have cast an early ballot, shattering previous records. In DuPage County alone, officials say almost 25 percent of voters have already cast ballots.

There were long lines at voting sites around the Chicago area Thursday. By 9 a.m., some lines were getting so long that election officials had to improvise in order to keep it moving along.

In Lombard, voters stood in line up to an hour and a half Thursday. Volunteers kept the line in check at the YorkTown Center Mall. Snaking up and down the hallway, each had a different reason to vote early.

"Just trying to get it out of the way early because I don't know what's going to happen Tuesday," said Salvador Farias, Willowbrook voter.

"It's kind of like Disney. It's pretty long. But, you know, I got time. I'm just kind of hanging in there," said Derrick Turner, early voter.

Turner voted in his first election Thursday. He was among the thousands of voters casting early ballots.

In the city and suburbs, officials estimate that the number of early voters will have tripled since early voting began in March of 2006.

Voters say they aren't surprised by the record turnout and given the enthusiasm behind this year's election. They say it's better to get it out of the way now.

"I think this will be a whole lot better than Tuesday. I think it will be crazy on Tuesday. I took a day off just to do this," said Lolita Reed, early voter.

"I do hope it's an indication of how many people will turn out on Tuesday, but I hope the long lines now don't intimidate people on Tuesday," said Candace Meyers, early voter.

"Yes, [Thursday] was better. I came [Wednesday], and it was just like this. I turned around and walked out. I said I will come earlier. So I arrived about 7:30 this morning. I figured the early bird does catch the worm," said Deborrah Nolan, early voter.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the collar counties were also reporting record turnout.

In Lake County, of more than 400,000 registered voters, more than 83,000 voted early. In McHenry County, there are about 200,000 registered voters - more than 23,000 voted early. In DuPage, there are well more than half a million registered voters - about 96,000 of them voted early. And in Kendall County, of the roughly 65,000 registered voters, more than 5,000 have already cast their ballots. In Kane County, 52,000 voted, and in Will County, 31,000 voted early.

In Cook County, there were 51 early voting sites, one in each ward and one at the clerk's main office at 69 West Washington.

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