Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

President Obama Votes in Chicago

Obama is the first sitting president to cast an early vote in person

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After casting his vote at a community center on Chicago's south side, President Barack Obama spoke of how convenient the process was and how it can make Election Day less stressful.

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Barack Obama on Thursday became the first sitting president to cast an early ballot in person when he voted at a community center on Chicago's south side.

The president arrived at the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Center, in the 4300 block of South Cottage Grove Ave., at 4:10 p.m. and was greeted by a crowd of largely African American bystanders who were cheering and waving.

"This is so exciting. I get to vote early," he said.

Despite being president, Obama was asked for his photo ID in order to receive a ballot. He gave an election worker his Illinois driver's license.

"Ignore the fact that there's no gray hair in that picture," he told the poll worker.

The president called the whole process of early voting "convenient" and stressed its importance.

"It means you don't have to figure out whether you need to take time off work, figure out how to pick up the kids and still cast your ballot. If something happens on Election Day, you will already have taken care of it. If it's bad weather you won't get wet, or in Chicago, snowy."

Ahead of his Chicago visit, the president stressed the importance of early voting during his stop in Florida, hoping to build excitement and boost numbers.

"I've come to Florida today to ask you for your vote," Obama told supporters, "I've come to ask you to help me move America forward."

Back in Chicago, voters lined up early outside the community center in hopes of seeing the president.

"I just put on Facebook how excited I am that the president will show up," said voter Denise Scott. "My heart is racing."

The presidential race is tight and after three stirring debates, voters are ready to weigh in. Chicagoan Gilbert Edmonds said Thursday was his third attempt at early voting because he said lines have been long all week and the wait has been estimated at several hours each time.

"I'm happy that people are out, engaged, but get here early," Edmond said.

In suburban Cook County, 45,000 people voted between Monday and Wednesday, compared to 25,000 in 2008. In Chicago, 48,000 voted this week compared to 32,000 in 2008.

"I beleive the next four years is going to be different for people ... and I think all the people here, they feel it," said voter Lillian Davis.

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