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Chicago Prepares for Celebrations

November 4, 2008

Chicago, Illinois – The sun is shining in Chicago today and with temperatures in the 70s this could be the warmest Election Day since 1964. With the tops down, drivers took their convertibles out for a ride in the morning and are driving around town while an endless stream of runners jog along Lake Michigan on the eastern edge of the city.


Chicago residents are also flocking to polling places and voting operations seem to be running smoothly in spite of the high turnout.

Even during early morning rush hour, lines were kept under control with waiting times that never exceeded the one-hour mark. In this democratic stronghold most voters are casting their ballots for Barack Obama.

There is anticipation in the air and the city waits impatiently for tonight’s returns. “I voted for Obama,” says Paul Walker, “If it had taken seven hours, it wouldn’t matter; I’d still be in line. I hope he wins.” While this service industry worker speaks, a woman passes him by and shouts, “Obama! He’s the only one.”

The mood around Chicago and especially in predominantly African American neighborhoods is cheerful. People hold high hopes and are preparing for a big celebration.

Senator Obama, who voted early this morning in Hyde Park, the neighborhood where he resides, will be speaking tonight at a mass rally held downtown. The Obama campaign and the Chicago Police Department said they are expecting as many as a million people to show up for the event in Grant Park.

“If he loses we are going to be in serious trouble,” believes Elsie McBride, a grandmother who just voted and is now taking care of her two grandchildren. “McCain would take on right where George W. Bush left off,” she worries. As many other African American residents of Chicago, Ms. McBride is also concerned about the potentially angry reaction of her community in case Senator Obama lost the elections. “I was talking about this with my daughter recently and we both agreed that there is a possibility that riots will break out,” Ms. McBride explains.


Ricky Johnson, forty-nine year-old employee of the Chicago Park System, is not as nervous: “If Obama loses he loses and we will just keep going,” he says. “I hope he wins though, people need jobs.”

Karyn Morrow, a sales clerk, is working as a poll judge today and is handing out ballots to voters. She will cast her own later in the day, once her shift is over, and she hopes that Senator Obama “will change bad things into good ones.” Although she concedes that losing would represent a great disappointment, Ms. Morrow appears optimistic and concludes: “I don’t think he can lose. It is time for change.”

Originally reported and written for Washington Prism

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