Illinois, Indiana Voters Head to the Polls
By Sean Powers, with additional reporting from The Associated Press
There are long lines at polling places across the country, and voter turnout has been steady in Champaign County, where about 20 percent of registered voters voted early.
An election judge at an Urbana precinct said the polling place was very busy early this morning and held steady through nine o’clock. Carolyn Pribble said there haven’t been any problems and a new computer system has made voter check-in fast.
“The new computer system has worked extremely well, and if anything, we were able to check people in faster than the booths were open for them to be able to vote,” Pribble said.
In Champaign, business owner Scott Brown, 46, voted for Romney.
“I don't want to ignore the concern of health care in this country, but I feel like Obamacare is creating undue pressure,” Brown said.
Erika Miner, 34, of Champaign, is a stay at home mother of three who voted for Obama.
“I'm really just concerned about taxing and health care. I was raised to believe that if you have more you should be taxed more,” Miner said.
For some Illinois voters, Tuesday's election is important because of the impact it will have on social services in the United States.
Martha Wolters said she turned out in Springfield to vote for President Barack Obama. She said women's issues, social security and health care are important issues to her.
Wolters works as a counselor at the SIU School of Medicine, and she said she worries any efforts to cut services will hurt her clients because she works with many people who are on Medicaid.
Software developer Tim Kelly, however, said he voted for Republican Mitt Romney because he thinks Obama has been offering benefits to people who don't really need public assistance. The Springfield resident said he has family members who get food stamps who really could be working.
A pregnant suburban Chicago woman didn't let being in labor stop her from voting in her first presidential election.
Cook County Clerk David Orr reports that 21-year-old Galicia Malone's water had broken and her contractions were about five minutes apart. But Orr says she still made the detour en route to the hospital to vote Tuesday morning at the polls at New Life Celebration Church in Dolton.
Orr said his hat is off to Malone and he wishes all voters showed such determination to cast their ballots.
Leaders of both political parties are closely watching Illinois congressional races that could help shift the balance of power in the U.S. House of Representatives. Democrats say only California and New York offer more chances for them to pick up seats in the Republican-controlled chamber.
In addition to weighing in on national, statewide, and local races, Illinois voters are heading to the polls to have a say on the state's public pensions. A constitutional amendment on the ballot would require a three-fifths majority vote of lawmakers in Springfield before retirement benefits for public employees are enhanced. The state's five pension systems are underfunded by $85 billion.
Meanwhile, voters in the Indianapolis metropolitan area are reporting long lines and long waits at some polling places amid heavy voter turnout.
The state will be choosing a new U.S. senator and governor.
The winner of Tuesday's gubernatorial race will succeed two-term Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels. State law limits Daniels from seeking a third term.
In Republican-dominated Hamilton County just north of Indianapolis, residents had to wait two hours to vote at some of the county's 150 polling stations.
County Election Administrator Kathy Richardson said a programming glitch that affected voting machines in about half of the county's polling sites delayed Tuesday's start of voting by about 20 minutes. But she attributed the long lines that formed later to the big voter turnout.
Richardson said the county's Election Day didn't get off to a good start with the technical problems, but she said the large number of people who have turned out to vote caused the long waits to cast votes.
While the deadline for early in-person voting was Monday, the deadline for mailed in ballots to be received is noon Tuesday. In 2008, nearly a quarter of all Indiana voters cast early ballots in that year's general election.
More than a third of Americans voted before Tuesday, but none of the ballots will be counted before tonight. Polls in Illinois close at 7pm CT, and they close in Indiana at 5pm CT.