UPDATED 11/2/10 3:35 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – The polls opened at 6 a.m. on this crisp fall Tuesday, and officials say voters are turning out in impressive numbers.
As CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports, the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners said many precincts were reporting 10 to 20 people waiting to vote when they opened.
CBS 2’s Pam Zekman reports that election officials predict that turnout will be around 50 percent of eligible voters. Meanwhile, a bank robbery in Homewood forced precincts in two nearby schools to be locked down. For about 25 minutes, no voters could leave or enter the polling places.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody Reports
From the North Side to the South Side, voters were in booths, in lines and in front of ballot boxes demonstrating their constitutional rights.
“This is the way that we were taught in school,” said voter Apurva Dave. “This is how you exercise your power in a democratic government.”
“As an African-American, too many people lost their lives in order for me to vote, and I think it’s important to let my voice be known,” said voter Sharon Evans.
“It’s my right to vote, and I want to exercise it, and I want to speak for myself,” added voter Jen Eckert.
Election officials said absentee voting rates are up 300 percent, and early voting rates are up 200 percent. Such returns are good indicators that passions are simmering on both sides of the political aisle.
Some voters want to clean house, and admit to being caught up in the “throw the bums out” mentality. Others see progress, and want to continue for another two years.
One area where most voters seem to agree is a mutual dislike of attack ads.
“I hate all the political ads. Honestly, every time you hear one positive ad, then you hear one negative ad, for and against, and you don’t know who’s sponsoring what,” Dave said.
“All campaigns were really nasty this particular election cycle,” another voter said.
Mayor Daley hasn’t had to wage many hard-fought campaigns, because he’s had opponents running scared for years. On Tuesday, he spoke briefly with reporters, including Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel, before casting his final vote for a congressional election as the mayor.
LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mary Frances Bragiel Reports
“It’s the economy and jobs. That’s every midterm election,” Daley said. “You go back in history, it’s always economy and jobs. There’s nothing more important.”
There have been a few of the usual glitches. In Cook County, for instance, some election judges had a hard time getting into a few polling places and a few election judges not showing up.
Also, six suburban Cook County polling precincts opened late.
In Lake County, Clerk Willard Helander says polls opened on time and that turnout started strong, with some locations having “more than 50 voters in the first half hour of being open”.
No problems or voting irregularities were reported in Will or DuPage Counties either.
There are more than 11,000 polling places in Illinois.
Voters are deciding who will claim President Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, the Illinois governor’s mansion and multiple congressional seats.
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