Officials: Record turnout for early voting

Chicago-area residents turned out at polling places yesterday in record numbers,  waiting up to 90 minutes in line to cast ballots in the final hours of the early voting period for the general election.

“We’re being overrun,” Charles Holiday, a Cook County election official, said yesterday. “Voting was extra heavy today.”

South Shore resident Aurelia McKenny, 28, said she waited more than an hour to cast her vote.

“I’m excited and happy. It’s time for a change," she said, leaving her polling place with a co-worker.

The two voted during their lunch break.

“We’re sending more co-workers over to vote when we get back to work,” she said.

Early polls closed at 5 p.m. yesterday. On Tuesday, polls are scheduled to be open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Elections officials say that some 250,000 people in Chicago took advantage of voting early. Numbers will be firmed up sometime today. These numbers echo estimates of the number of Chicagoland suburbanites that cast early ballots.

What else could have been expected with a top-of-the-ticket pitting U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Il., against U.S. Sen. John McCain, R. Ariz., in the presidential race?

Jill Rice, who endured a wait of an hour and a quarter at a polling facility on Washington Street, said she wasn’t surprised.

Like others, she had taken a long lunch break to vote.

“I wanted to participate in the democratic process,” Rice said.