By Jay Levine

(CBS)– Crowds continued to cast early-voting ballots across Chicago Monday, even as President Obama and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, suspended campaign activities because of Hurricane Sandy.

“I thought I’d be in and out real quick,” one voter told CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine at a crowded polling place. “I think it’s an important election. People care about it.”

More than 100,000 Chicagoans have already cast their ballots. That’s 60 percent more than four years ago. Similar scenes are taking place elsewhere, even as the two major-party candidates canceled events for the next two days.

“The election will take care of itself next week,” Obama said.

Gov. Romney appeared to have no choice but to follow suit, calling it quits after one last rally in Ohio.

“Our hearts and prayers are with all the people in the storm’s path,” he said.

But while Romney’s campaign is now suspended, the president is front and center and in charge.

“The good news is, for Obama, that the ball’s in his court,” Roosevelt University political science Prof. Paul Green says. “He’s got the ball — whether he can run with it or not is up to him.”

Vice President Joe Biden and his GOP opponent for the office, Paul Ryan, have also cancelled all events. But the impact on the campaign could extend even further.

With Washington shut down, Friday’s scheduled release of the October jobs report — arguably the last crucial piece of economic data before next Tuesday’s election and a potential game-changer — is now in doubt.

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