In the sleek lobby of a highrise in the heart of Lincoln Park, only three people in the first hour of voting came to cast their ballots, according to a volunteer for Tim Egan, a candidate running against Michele Smith for the open seat in Chicago's 43rd Ward. It was here at polling Precinct 14 that Smith got 62.39 percent of the votes in the February election, her best showing in the ward.
That apathy was also visible at the regal St. Chrysostom’s Church where four precincts (assigned to over 2,000 voters) gathered into one concentrated polling place. In Precinct 28, 380 voted in February (685 are registered in the precinct today), the best turnout in the ward. This time, though, a mere 10 people had voted by 7:30 a.m. Another one of the four polling places sharing the church space was Precinct 35, which has 665 registered voters; just seven had showed to vote in the first hour of voting, something polling judge Susan Nelson optimistically called a “good turnout.” Precinct 42, with 425 registered voters, had four voters turn up in the first hour. For Precinct 39, Charles Fisher’s ballot was only the 12th ballot this morning out of the 400 registered voters. Fisher, 22, didn’t vote in February but, he says, civic duty got him out early this morning to vote for Smith because the ward “needs new blood.” He added that he was turned off by Egan’s negative campaigning.
Then there’s the 46th Ward, where James Cappleman and Molly Phelan are facing off to replace the long-time Ald. Helen Shiller. We stopped by Precinct 1, where 484 peopled voted in February, the best turn out ward-wide. Today, of the 753 registered voters, a relatively impressive 85 ballots were cast by 8:30 a.m. A polling judge said the precinct, which primarily serves residents of the 800-unit Imperial Towers condo building at 4250 N. Marine and is located in the front lobby, usually gets decent turn out. In Feburary, 68 percent of voters turned out, and over 80 percent of registered voters showed up for the 2008 presidential election. The reason, many voters said, was because of the can’t-miss-it convenience of being downstairs from their home. Jake Howard, 42, said, “People care here.”
Howard, an attorney who said he "couldn't stand" Shiller, voted for Phelan in the first round but changed his mind after hearing from a friend who was a Cappleman supporter. Howard said he believes they are "about the same" so it was a hard vote. Watch his comments and other fellow voters here: