CHICAGO (WBBM) — Election officials in Chicago and the suburbs say they are seeing encouraging numbers in the people participating in early voting now underway.

As WBBM Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, Chicago election officials say nearly 8,000 early votes have been cast for the 14 wards with aldermanic runoff elections, and early voting continues through next Thursday. Thus, election officials are pleased.

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LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

Cook County Clerk David Orr is seeing similar pictures in the suburbs.

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“The turnout is up from 2009, which I think is significant, because as people know more about early voting, they will participate,” Orr said.

He said the votes are heavier in areas with hotly-contested elections.

“In Wilmette, they had 460-some people that voted on Saturday, which is a pretty significant amount,” Orr said. “Chicago Heights is another place where there’s a lot of people showing to vote.”

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Traditionally, the most votes are cast in the last few days of early voting.