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Election Day Diary: Judges Report Solid Turnout

Patch stopped at three polling places in Clarendon Hills, Hinsdale and Burr Ridge to talk to voters and election judges about all things Election Day.

Welcome to Patch's Election Day log. Check back here for rolling election-related posts Tuesday afternoon as we talk to judges and voters in Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills and Burr Ridge.

4:59 p.m.

Patch talked to a couple of voters at the Burr Ridge Police Department, one who voted for Republican Mitt Romney and one who voted for Democratic President Barack Obama.

Chris Blando said she voted for Romney because she feels he'll be better for small businesses. Blando's husband owns a jewelry store in Countryside and she said "he's gotten no help in four years" under Obama.

"We've bought more jewelry than we've sold," she said with a laugh.

Full local results from Tuesday's election can be found here.

Susann Pedersen voted for Obama based on a "gut feeling" and said she was swayed by this fall's debate season.

"After the first debate I liked Romney, after the second debate I liked Obama, and after the third debate I liked Obama," Pedersen said.

The Burr Ridge resident said she voted for John McCain, not Obama, in 2008.

4:08 p.m.

Patch just left the Burr Ridge Police Department, where as of about 4 p.m., 1,183 of 2,769 registered voters assigned to that polling place had cast a ballot. Election judges there expect another rush after 5 p.m.

The police department is the polling place for three Burr Ridge precincts that cover the area between Plainfield Road and 87th Street running north to south, and Madison Street to County Line Road running east to west.

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Patch chatted with a couple of voters outside and will post up a few quotes from them soon. (We even got to talk to a voter who was swayed from one candidate to another based on this fall's debates.)

3:38 p.m.

Patch chatted with election judge Darlene Cermak at The Community House.

The Hinsdale resident has been working as a judge on Election Day since at least the mid-1990s. She said her first presidential election as a judge was Bill Clinton's re-election bid in 1996, but worked several smaller elections before that.

She said being an election judge is like serving on a jury.

"You want somebody to do it for you and, when you're able, you want to do it for others," Cermak said.

Since she first served as a judge, Cermak said several improvements have been made in the voting process. Electronic voting, the move away from chad ballots, and a computer system to help people find their polling place if they're in the wrong spot are among the things that Cermak said have bettered the Election Day process.

Provisional ballots help folks who, for one of many reasons, might not be listed as an eligible voter. It could very well be that a mistake was made by authorities and the provisional ballot should and will be counted.

"We don't have to turn anyone away," Cermak said.

Judges at The Community House will have a couple hours of hard work to do after polls close at 7 p.m. After judges multiple times throughout the day make sure the number of ballots in the counting machine matches the number of hard-copy voter cards they received, the votes will be tabulated (nine times, to be sure) and reported, and the equipment will be returned to Wheaton.

Cermak said an election judge's job is likely more taxing than most people think.

"Getting up at 4 a.m. and leaving at 8:30 or 9 p.m., it's tiring," she said.

2:54 p.m.

A bit delayed, but as of about 2:20 p.m. at The Community House, 684 out of 1,831 registered voters assigned to that polling place had come in to vote.

Election judge Darlene Cermak said approximately 200 additional voters assigned to that polling place had cast their ballots early.

More on Darlene coming in a later post.

2:16 p.m.

Hinsdale couple Jackie and Chuck Russell just finished voting at The Community House and were proud to tell Patch afterward that they had voted for President Barack Obama.

"In a very Republican area," Jackie said.

Jackie and Chuck, who are 80 and 81, respectively, grew up in Hinsdale and raised their family in the town. The two said they voted for Hinsdale native Kirk Dillard, a Republican incumbent, to be their state senator.

"He was on my baseball team," Chuck said, referring to the Little League team he coached when his son was playing youth baseball.

READ: Dillard Beats A. Ghani to Retain 24th District Seat

The Russells said they vote in every election, including primaries. The presidential race, Jackie said, was what they were thinking about most when heading to the polls Tuesday, but they also think voting for judges is important, too.

1:50 p.m.

Anybody out there in Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills or Burr Ridge have any good Election Day voting stories from Tuesday morning or afternoon? 

Maybe a chat with an election judge or a long wait in line? Anyone use the electronic voting booth? Any issues there?

Tell us in the comment section below and we'll include them in this log to see if anyone had a really similar or totally different experience.

1:18 p.m.

As of 1:04 p.m. Tuesday, 724 of 1,692 registered voters whose polling place is Prospect School in Clarendon Hills had shown up to vote, according to election judges at the location.

"They were lined up out the door this morning," election judge Jane Spaeth said.

Spaeth, a 22-year election judge veteran, said 150 people voted in the first hour.

The judges at the location who had worked previous presidential elections said Tuesday had a similar, busy feel to past ones. Spaeth said presidential elections always bring out big crowds, but Tuesday's didn't feel any bigger than those in the past.

Technical judge Phil Goslawski said in addition to the morning rush, the judges expect a lot of votes to come in during the evening hours, as people arrive home from work before the polls close at 7 p.m. 

Goslawski said anyone who is in the building and waiting in line when the polls close can cast a ballot.

"As long as they come in by 7 p.m., they're welcome to vote," he said.

Check back with Patch later for more reporting from area polling places.

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