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Obama becomes first sitting president to vote early

President Obama made history today, becoming the first sitting president to cast a ballot before Election Day.
Photo: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Photo: AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

President Obama made history today, becoming the first sitting president to cast a ballot before Election Day. On the campaign trail before casting his vote, he praised early voting as a "great option" for people who "lead very busy lives."

He encouraged supporters to vote early in a video he recorded just before leaving for Chicago to cast that ballot.

The president joined more than 7.5 million Americans who have already voted either in person or by mail, including his wife. The first lady cast her ballot early by mail last week.

The first couple are leading by example, but how many voters will be inspired to cast an early ballot? Nearly 400,000 have done so in Iowa, where voters are on pace to set an early voting new record.

North Carolina has a lot of early voters too, and has collected nearly one million ballots in just its first week of early voting. Many early voting photos sent to PoliticsNation by fans of the show have come from the Tarheel State, where viewers have reported waiting in 1 and 1/2 to 2 hour lines.

However Florida may see the worst lines of this election season, thanks to extremely long ballots. They are so daunting that Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark told the Tampa Bay Times, "The voter who sees this ballot the first time may need smelling salts."

Ballots are so long that those sent by mail may require up to $1.50 in postage. If Republicans had not changed voting laws in Florida to shorten the time period for early in-person voting, voters would be able to cast ballots in person today.

The president didn't face any daunting lines or exceptionally long ballots today. He was in and out of his polling station in less than 15 minutes, showing photo ID when asked (under Illinois law anyone who votes early must show ID) and joking about how he had less gray hair in his driver's license picture.

After voting he addressed the importance of early voting one more time:

For all of you who have not yet early voted, I want all of you to see what an efficient process this was. All across the country we're seeing a lot of early voting, it means you don't have to figure out whether you need to take time off work... If something happens on Election Day, you will have already taken care of it.