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Voting lines not too bad--did early voting help?

  • (Bloomberg photo)
(Bloomberg photo)
November 06, 2012|By Zara Husaini @zarhus | RedEye

Despite social media platforms that are nearly overflowing with rants about lines of voters that wrap around city blocks, the polls at several North Side locations were virtually empty early Tuesday.

From 9 to 11 a.m., lines at several polling locations were almost nonexistent, This after there was a good bit of anxiety about possible six-hour wait times Monday, but some voters were in and out within five minutes.

But it isn’t necessarily apathy that’s to blame for the deserted polls--this year’s early voting policy may have more to do with it.

Several poll attendants said that there was a surge in voters around 6 a.m., when the polls opened. At that time, workers reported that the wait could go up to 25 minutes.

Maybe it was Michelle Obama’s highly publicized early voting that had Chicagoans hitting the ballots early. Or perhaps people thought they would avoid long lines if they voted early. Whatever the case, it seems what these early voters actually did was make lines shorter for the people who voted Tuesday.  

One poll attendant said that nearly 50 percent of the precinct’s eligible voters voted early, another said that 30 percent of the eligible voters opted for early voting in another precinct.  One attendant reported that he worked at Welles Park during the early voting period, and he said he saw 5,700 voters--some of them waited for upwards of three hours at closing time.

This is just a snapshot, but it seems as though early voting has changed certain Election Day trends. 

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