Election officials estimate 80 percent turnout

Before the crack of dawn, some lines of registered voters piped around polling places, and some were less than one block long. All eagerly waited to cast their ballot in the historic presidential election.

Before the crack of dawn, some lines of registered voters piped around polling places, and some were less than one block long.

All eagerly waited to cast their ballot in the historic presidential election.

“I will wait as long as I can. I just can’t be late for work. If it cuts too close to the time I need to be on the road, I will make sure that I come back when I get off. This day is a long time coming, and I must make sure I do my part to make history happen,” Glen Billingslea told the Defender while waiting outside of St. Dorothy’s School on the South Side.

The 36-year-old father of two was among about 50 people waiting to show their identification and get their ballot.

He arrived at the school shortly after the polls opened at 6 a.m. and was on his way to work by 6:35 a.m.

Billingslea’s wait to vote was “short and sweet” but will be much longer as he waits for the election results to start rolling in after 7 p.m.

A few miles away, the line was much longer at McDowell School.

“I drove by McDowell School at 6:15 this morning and the line was out the door and back to 89th Street. What a great sight!” Elliott Glen, 57, said after he waited a little more than an hour to vote.

In south suburban Flossmoor, voters also came out early to support their candidates.

Ria Smith, a first-time voter, said there was no way she was going to be left out of the “party.”

“I wanted to make sure this mattered. This is big,” she said.

Smith said she got to her polling place around 6:30 a.m. and saw at least 60 people in front of her. Her total wait time was about 40 minutes.

“The wait wasn’t bad at all,” she said, adding she was surprised that she was “in and out” so quickly.

As of Oct. 7, Smith was among the 61 percent of new voters under age 34, according to the Chicago Board of Elections, and one of the 1.4 million registered voters in Chicago.

The number of registered voters in Illinois was approximately 7.7 million, according to the State Board of Elections, breaking a record set four years ago when 7.5 million people were registered, and voter turnout was at 71 percent.

City and county election officials expect at least an 80 percent turnout for this election.

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