CHICAGO (CBS) — With Illinois a player in the Republican primary election for the first time in decades, the number of voters asking for a GOP ballot is up, but election officials still expect low turnout overall.

Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, said the number of early voters asking for a Republican ballot is up significantly compared to 2008.

Even so, the vast majority of early voters in Chicago have requested Democratic ballots.

“It’s running about 88 percent requesting Democratic ballots and a little more than 10 percent, 11 percent, requesting Republican ballots,” Allen said.

In the last presidential election four years ago, Allen said, “We only had a little more than six percent requesting Republican ballots.”

However, overall turnout in Chicago and suburban Cook County is expected to be low for the primary election. Early voting ends Thursday. The primary elections are on Tuesday.

“I’d love to tell you it’s going to be 35, 40 percent; but I doubt it. I think it’ll be 25 percent or less,” said Cook County Clerk David Orr.

And turnout in the city of Chicago?

“I think it’s safe to say it’ll be in the high 20s. We still think that Chicago will be among the leaders statewide, but it’s still going to be relatively low,” said Jim Allen, spokesman for the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Steve Miller reports

Allen says the city expects to end the early voting period with less than half the votes cast in early voting for the 2008 presidential primary.

Early voting sites in Chicago and suburban Cook are open until 5 p.m.

Chicago Early Voting Sites

Cook County Early Voting Sites