Voting going well, officials say; minor glitches here and there

Voting appeared to be going smoothly at a number of Uptown polling stations today, even as several had passed 50 percent turnout before noon.

At the Uptown branch of the Chicago Public Library on West Buena Avenue, about a dozen people were waiting for the polls to open by 6 a.m., said Dassin Wallace, a poll worker there. And for the next three hours, there was a steady stream of people coming in to vote there.

“People were very patient and understanding,” she says. By 9:30 a.m., about 200 people had turned in their ballots at that polling station, based on the electronic tally of a ballot counting machine.

Voter John Goldberg says he didn’t mind having to wait a few minutes for a booth to open up, even though no one was using the electronic voting machine.

“I’m old school. If you want to vote electronic, go right ahead,” he said to another person waiting to vote.

People waited to vote for nearly an hour at the Ruth Shriman House on North Sheridan Avenue early this morning, the polling place for two precincts. Marie Collins, a poll worker there, said nobody complained about the wait and other than being “swamped” for most of the morning, they had not had any problems.

Counting early voters, 550 of the 900 voters in one of those precincts had voted by 11:30 a.m., said poll worker Jane Hertenstein.

The scene was slightly more confusing for some voters at Truman College, where three precincts had separate polling stations set up side-by-side in the main lobby. As many as 50 people were in each of the lines for two precincts and about 20 waited in line for the third precinct at the busiest part of the morning, says poll worker David Russell Jacobson.

There were usually no more than a dozen people waiting for a voting booth in each of the different precinct voting areas at mid-morning, though some people had to wait in more than one line after realizing they had been standing in the line for the wrong precinct. Polling officials turned regularly to large precinct maps to verify that everyone was voting in the right precinct.

“We had a couple people not on our rolls. We were going to let them vote provisional but the machine broke,” said a poll worker in the Ward 42, Precinct 35 voting area who covered his name badge with his hand and refused to give his name to a reporter. He said the electronic voting machine was fixed simply by restarting it and the voters said they would come back later to cast provisional ballots.

Two women volunteering with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan election monitoring group, said there were a few issues with voting at the Truman polling station.

“Some people are voting on provisional ballots and we’re trying to avoid that, because of the hassle in validating those,” said Melody Drummond Hansen, an attorney volunteering with the group for the morning.

Several blocks away at the Ella Flag Young Apartments, poll worker Lap Wong said about 50 people had turned to him and another interpreter to help with translating their ballots. The precinct has many Korean and Chinese residents.

By 11 a.m., more than 250 people of the roughly 600 registered voters in the precinct had already cast their ballots, Wong says.

He was ready for the numbers to pick up once people started getting off work.

“We’re expecting there’s a huge crowd coming after 3 p.m,” Wong says.