There are less than 6 full days left until the polls open on Election Day, but it appears that many Chicagoans just can't wait. People are turning out in record numbers to vote early, causing surprisingly long lines at early-voting polling places.
More than 544,000 voters in the city and suburbs have shown up at libraries, community centers, colleges, and other Early Voting sites to cast ballots, and they continue to show up in droves. By Thursday, when the early-voting polling places close, 697,000 people—nearly 15% of registered voters in the six-county area—are expected to have taken part in the election.
"Each day seems to break a record," Cook County Clerk David Orr told the Chicago Tribune. "This is the most intense presidential election I've ever seen. People are willing to stand and wait. They're just so intent on it."
Orr told the Southtown Star that he believes the high early turnout is due to the fact that the Democratic nominee is Illinois' very own Barack Obama.
"We wait in line for everything else—amusement parks, a cup of coffee," said George Fuller, an early voter. "Why not wait in line to make a decision about what happens in your life?"
But for many, it's just a matter of convenience.
"I voted for McCain," said John Minogue of Orland Park. "I just like the convenience of voting early. It was easy. No problem. Simple."
Whatever the reason, thousands of people are taking advantage of the opportunity.
Robert Nance, 48, said, "I'm kind of surprised to see so many people here. I guess everyone is excited about this one."
Early voting ends Thursday, October 30.