Voter turnout key in crucial mid-term elections

November 2, 2010 (CHICAGO)

It was down to the wire for the top candidates for our state's two biggest political prizes. It's been a hotly contested campaign in the race for the state's top job between Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and Republican State Senator Bill Brady.

In the race to win President Obama's old Senate seat, Congressman Mark Kirk and State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias remain locked in one of the tightest in the country. Turnout is expected to be a key factor in determining who wins.

From the city, to the suburbs, voter turnout has been steady. For the most part, area voters appear to be facing few major problems at the polls.

The Chicago Board of Elections says all 2,500 voting precincts opened, for the most part, on time.

At O'Keefe Elementary, 6940 S. Merrill, on the city's South Side, lines were moving and waits were short.

"It went pretty fast," said voter Sharon Singleton. "I just hope everybody gets out here and votes today, because we really need them out here. I hope these politicians change something."

"I'm definitely seeing a slow and steady voter turnout, although there has been a lot of early voting, there's still a good crowd coming out," said Marilyn Alam, polling place administrator.

The Cook County Clerk's Office said at least six suburban polling places opened late, including a Glenview location, where a staffing snafu forced a two-hour delay in voting. It was one of seven suburban Cook County locations that did not open on time because of various logistical and staffing issues. The county clerk's office is keeping those locations open an extra hour, until 8 p.m.

Glenview voter Michelle Kryscio said, even after the staffing issue at her precinct was resolved, problems remained.

"I waited probably 20, 25 minutes just to get in line to vote, after they were trying to find names of people who have lived in the precinct for 22 years," said Kryscio.

The two-hour delay in voting prompted candidates to dispatch poll watchers to Glenview to observe.

But, for most, voting appeared to have been hassle-free. What's helped is the large number of voters who participated in early voting last month, nearly triple the number in the city that voted early four years ago.

Still, election officials are bracing for a late afternoon rush.

"We encourage all our voters, if they have an absentee ballot at home now, they've just received it, it's too late to mail it in; bring it to the polling place, surrender it to the judges, and then vote," said Langdon Neal, Chicago Board of Elections.

If you have questions or need help finding your polling place, you can call 312-269-1604.

Voters are advised polls in Illinois are open until 7 p.m. Indiana polls close at 6 p.m., and voters in Wisconsin have until 8 p.m. to cast their ballots.

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