Illinois Votes: Turnout Stronger Than Expected, Candidates Cast Their Ballots (PHOTOS)

11/02/2010 01:52 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Candidates and voters filled polling places in and around Chicago Tuesday--and turnout has been better than expected.

"We had about 99 people in the first three hours," Election judge Ericstrina Bennett told the Chicago Tribune from the city's North Side. "That's high for this morning. We only have 744 people registered to vote in this precinct."

Cook County Clerk David Orr told HuffPost Chicago it was a "typical election day" so far in the suburbs, and there has been a "steady stream" of people voting. He said it was too soon to tell if today's turnout would be better than the 2006 election. As of Tuesday morning, there were 1,370,187 registered voters in suburban Cook County, including 1,582 grace-period registrants and 83,881 early voters.

Orr said he did not receive any reports of voter intimidation so far today, and problems with electronic voting machines were minimal. Also, voters in the suburbs can choose between electronic voting and paper ballots, he said.

Some polling places might stay open until 8 p.m. if they for some reason were not open promptly at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, Orr said. In suburban Homewood, some polling places might ask a judge for an extension following a bank robbery and shooting that led to the temporary closure of some area schools.

"It turned out okay," Orr said, adding that the incident did not take place in the polling areas and the closures were a precautionary measure.

Congressman Mark Kirk, who voted in north suburban Highwood Tuesday, told reporters turnout "was extremely heavy" on the North Shore--which he represents.

"I think that we need a change," Kirk said.

Voters downstate agreed.

"I'm tired of the way things are being done," Robbie Walters of Springfield told the Associated Press. "I'm tired of poor decisions and corruption. It's time for wholesale substitution."

But Republicans banking on a low turnout in Democrat-leaning Chicago might have to think again.

HuffPost reader Carol in Chicago said that she voted a little before 7:00 a.m., and while she expected no one to be there, the location was actually "pretty full." Heavy turnout was also reported at 9:30 a.m. in the 10th congressional district of Illinois, which is made up of Chicago suburbs.

Also, the DNC reports that a "disproportionately high number of Cook County voters cast early vote ballots." Of all early vote ballots cast, 44.2 percent of them came from Cook County. Democrats were favored in those ballots.

Polling places will be open until 7 p.m. Tuesday. Find your polling place here.

Check out some Election Day photos, and please add more!

Election 2010: Illinois Votes