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Early Voting 'Super Site' Opens, Braces For Surge In Ballots

By Alex Nitkin | October 10, 2016 5:36pm
 The "super site," which opened Monday, employs 32 people and houses 150 voting machines, officials said.
Early voting in Chicago
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LOOP — Having just moved to Chicago, Kendall Busse wasn't registered to vote when she walked into the city's downtown early voting "super site" Monday afternoon. Less than 10 minutes later, she walked back out with a wide smile and an "I Voted" wristband.

"That was totally efficient," Busse said. "This year has been so depressing, I've just really wanted to vote already. And now it's done."

It was a successful dry run of the Chicago Board of Elections' downtown "super site," which managed its first day of accommodating early voters on Monday.

Related: You Can Vote Early In Chicago Right Now

The moment Busse walked into the warehouse-sized facility at 15 W. Washington St., an attendant pointed her to a long table, where 15 attendants sat ready to add her name to the voter rolls. Once they did, she had per pick of 150 touch screen voting machines.

The "super site" was an upgrade over previous years, when a similar early voting station had only 44 machines and repeatedly got clogged with long lines, officials said.

Election administrator Lance Gough strolled between the long rows of machines Monday afternoon, watching a steady stream of voters trickle in from the street.

Related: What Chicagoans Will Be Voting For This November

"This election season has just been incredible," said Gough, executive director of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. "We've been getting 500 or 600 people coming in every day since early voting started [on Sept. 29], and today looks like we'll be going well past that."

Citywide voter registration has been surging for months, Gough said, including 1,300 new signups right after Sunday night's presidential debate.

"Every time something happens in the paper, there's always a big pickup," he said.

Alex Stopak had already been "pretty adamant" in his support for Hillary Clinton, but the debate made him more eager to cast his vote, he said.

"Trump was just being very Trumpian," said Stopak, a law student at DePaul University, as he walked out of the polling station. "He was acting like a child, whining to the moderators."

Janice Kates, meanwhile, saved herself the stress of tuning in.

"I had already made up my mind," she said. "And the first [debate] was so disgusting, I honestly wanted to avoid the second one."

Kates normally votes on election day at her local polling place in Kenwood, but she decided to vote early this time, she said. She was glad she did.

"Usually in the smaller places, there's more of a wait, and it takes longer," Kates said. "This was fast, and it was easy. In the future, I'll probably try to do it this way again."

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