President Obama joined a surge in hometown voters casting an early election ballot Thursday, trekking to an austere Chicago community center where the waiting-room seats are now off limits after becoming a hangout for drug dealers. The surge, if not the center, should be reassuring.
Early voting nationally appears to be on the rise compared to the 2008 campaign, in which about one-third of all ballots were cast before Election Day. That’s notable since the conventional wisdom among many election officials and political scientists has been that we were not likely to seeing very big early turnouts this year due to a lack of enthusiasm in the race, especially among Democrats.
There are signs that the experts were wrong. In Cook County, where Chicago is located, there were 95,000 ballots cast through Wednesday, or the first three days of early voting. That compares to 67,000 in 2008 during the same period. Nationwide, about seven million votes have been cast.