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Busy Day at the Polls in Highland Park

Michael Ferrari, 63, feeds his ballot into the counting machine just before 10 a.m. He said he voted for President Barack Obama.

It’s not even 10 a.m. and election site manager Jeff Cohen, 44, has barely had a second to take a break from his poll watching duties at Highland Park High School since the doors opened at 6 a.m.

He said the voter turnout this year feels much heavier than the last presidential election when he managed a polling place in Lake Forest.

“Normally by now I’d have time to drink coffee, be sitting down, maybe read the newspaper,” Cohen said. “I don’t think I’ve sat one minute the whole time.”

At 9:47 a.m., 458 of the roughly 3,000 registered voters in the three Highland Park precincts voting at the high school had already cast their ballots, Cohen said.

“We opened at six, so it’s been 227 minutes, so we’re running two voters a minute, which is really great for us,” said Cohen. “We love that.”

But outside it wasn’t as busy. Just two electioneers passed out literature.

A few minutes before 10 a.m., Michael Ferrari, 63, fed his paper ballot into his precinct’s gray electronic counting box.

He said he wants to see a “more civil political system,” and added that he really hated the attack ads this election cycle.

Although Ferrari is a resident of Illinois’ 10th congressional district, the TV ads against Tammy Duckworth, the Democratic candidate running in the competitive 8th congressional district race, upset him.

“I take care of my buddies,” Ferrari said, quoting an attack ad. “Well, she was referring to people in the military, not her political cronies, and that just irritated me.”

Highland Park resident Assunta Amidei, 72, voted with her husband, Emo, 75, a retired union bricklayer of 35 years.

The couple, originally from Italy, said they’ve voted in every election since moving to Highland Park in 1975, and working-class issues are most important to them.

The average household income in Highland Park is $104,200, according to 2010 Census data.

“The rich people will go for Romney. He’s a good-looking man, but that’s all,” Assunta said laughing.


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