At Margate Park Fieldhouse on the city's North Side, voters on their way to work waited 30 to 40 minutes in a line that extended out the front door. By 8:30 a.m., an election judge said 116 voters had cast ballots in the Margate Park precinct.

"We've had a steady stream," said election judge Leon Klement. "So far it's been pretty smooth."

With the polls open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Illinois voters are casting ballots for president, Congress, the state legislature, and in hundreds of more localized contests.

Statewide voters will consider a proposed amendment to the Illinois Constitution asking whether it should be tougher for government to improve public employee pension benefits. Even if approved, the measure would have little impact on the nation's most underfunded public pension system. Dozens of localized referendum issues also are on the ballot.

There were about 30 people waiting to vote when the polling site opened this morning at Coonley elementary school, on the city's North Side.

Lines stretched about 50 deep by 7 a.m., and some people chose to vote against the wall instead of going into a private space.

"Sorry for the long wait," election judge Brendan Shultz, 21, told voters in line.

He said there's energy in the air today.

"This is when it matters. You can feel it's a big election happening."

Zach Wasilew waited about a half hour to vote at Coonley with his 7-year-old son, Jacob.

"One of the things about democracy is it can be boring," Wasilew joked to his son. He then passed the time teaching him the merits of democracy and the definition of a "swing state."

Democracy, he told his son, "can be boring but it is the peaceful way to make a transition."

Compared to the last presidential election for years ago, Wasilew said, "there is certainly less energy and a massive sense of foreboding."

"It is way more up in the air than four years ago, he said. "The outcome is really uncertain."

One pregnant woman was so determined to vote that she stopped on her way to the hospital.

A pregnant Galicia Malone, in south suburban Dolton, wasn't going to let anything stop her from voting in her first presidential election – not even being in labor.

With contractions five minutes apart, Malone, 21, stopped to cast her ballot at her precinct before driving to the hospital. She voted at about 8:30 a.m. at the New Life Celebration Church.

"If only all voters showed such determination to vote," Cook County Clerk David Orr said in a news release. "My hat goes off to Galicia for not letting anything get in the way of voting. What a terrific example she is showing for the next generation, especially her new son or daughter."

Voter turnout appeared to be high in Naperville, too.

By 11:30 a.m., a polling place in the Thornbury Woods subdivision had more than 200 votes in,  not counting those filed on the election site's digital screen or by absentee ballot. The entire precinct has 900 registered voters.