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Election Day Arrives As Chicagoans Flock To Polls

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Voters arrive at Precinct 10 in Chicago early on Tuesday. (Credit: Susanna Song/CBS 2)

Voters arrive at Precinct 10 in Chicago early on Tuesday. (Credit: Susanna Song/CBS 2)

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UPDATED: 11/6/2012 – 4:38 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Voters took to the polls in droves on Tuesday, with many trying to figure out their new polling places and overwhelming the Chicago Election Board website trying to get information.

CBS 2’s Susanna Song reported long lines at one downtown precinct at 200 N. Dearborn, with lines already forming as polls opened at 6 a.m.

Later in the morning, many voters, who are now in new precincts due to redistricting, were confused about where to go. At one polling place at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson, there were four precincts, but signage telling voters where to go was confusing. Others who were in the right place found their names were not on the voting list, forcing them to file a provisional ballot.

One voter told Song that she spent two hours trying to figure it out.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesigner caught up with a voter who voted while in labor with her first child. It was Galicia Malone’s first vote, too

There were also problems with the Chicago Election Board website, as voters appeared to be overwhelming the site, trying to check their registration status or find a polling place.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole went inside exclusively at a Cook County election call center, set up to help coordinate the massive polling effort. Workers, sitting at long tables lined with computers and phones, had already fielded over 3,500 calls from voters and election judges before 6:30 a.m.

CBS 2’s Marissa Bailey talked to lots of election judges who said they’ve been busy all day, and people did whatever they had to in order to cast their ballot for president.

There was a bit of rain outside Tuesday afternoon, but that did not seem to keep voters away. Wait times at polling places ranged from two minutes to up to an hour in some spots.

Whether people chose to vote by paper or electronic ballot, it seemed people were just excited in general.

There was no doubt a sense of pride in voting Tuesday, and – for the most part – the process seemed to go smoothly.

Merritt Jimson said it was important for him to vote Tuesday, because “I want to keep healthcare … government funding for people to go get their health issues taken care of.”

Luella Pernell also said she felt it was important to do her part to help President Barack Obama get re-elected.

“I want the same man in — to continue his job, to do what he’s supposed to do,” she said.

In Chicago and suburban Cook County, more than 500,000 voters took advantage of early voting.

According to Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office, 543,615 ballots had been cast before Election Day in Chicago and the Cook County suburbs — including mail-in absentee ballots, early voters, and those who voted immediately after taking advantage of “grace period” voter registration. That’s only slightly less than the 557,161 ballots that were cast before Election Day in 2008. However, the 2008 total includes absentee ballots that arrived up to two weeks after Election Day, but were postmarked before then. As there are certainly more absentee ballots in this year, the 2012 total could still surpass 2008.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports that over 100,000 voters took advantage of early voting in DuPage County. There were several voters at a polling place this morning, preferring to stick with tradition.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya Reports

WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports that the Illinois Attorney General’s office will be out in force to help with any potential problems at the polls.

WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports that there are a few key U.S. House races that could alter the balance of power in Washington.

Election officials were expecting a heavy turnout in Chicago.

Polls close at 7 p.m. in Illinois.

RELATED: Find A Polling Place | Get A Sample Ballot | Obama In Chicago

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