"I've done a lot of traveling around the world and I've been lucky enough to experience other cultures and countries where voting is not as easy," said DuPage County election judge Phyllis Newman. "So it just makes it that much more important as a citizen to do my civic duty."

It took three ballots for Jai Sangha, 82, and his wife, Joginder Sangha, 81, to properly cast their vote, but the Naperville couple were thrilled each time. The Sanghas, who moved to Naperville from India in 1992 and became U.S citizens shortly after, put the 20-minute wait in perspective.

"Sometimes it takes many days for voting because of security problems," Jai Sangha said. "It is good to vote to express our own views."

Voter turnout in DuPage County is strong, said Robert Saar, executive director of the DuPage County Election Commission.

Turnout in presidential election years is typically at about 75 percent in DuPage. Before 2 p.m. Tuesday, about 55 percent of the county’s registered 550,000 voters had already cast a ballot at one of 336 polling places.

"And there's  still several peak hours ahead of us," said Saar, who predicted DuPage's final voter turnout to be up to 77 percent. Besides today's crush as the polls, an estimated 100,000 voters weighed in early through absentee and mail options, which will be counted first once the polls close.

No major problems were reported, Saar said.

"I think we’re going to get our normal, healthy turnout," he said.

At Lincoln Elementary School in Evanston, roughly 100 people were waiting outside when the polling place opened at 6 a.m. "We had a big crush," said Mark Johansen, 59, a poll worker. "I opened the doors. It was a mob coming in."

The polling entrance at Lincoln School had been changed to a side door because of a recent renovation at the school, causing some confusion. "More signage would have helped," said Alyx Kesselring, 37. But, she noted, with a shrug: "I have a master's degree. I can figure it out."

Turnout at Lincoln School remained steady through the morning, poll workers said. Voters in line seemed motivated to cast their ballots.

Margaret Smith, 32, said she had been worried because she hadn't received her voter ID card.

"My office manager spent an hour online trying to figure out if I was registered," she said. Luckily, when Smith checked her mail yesterday, the card had arrived — just in time.

Voters said they were motivated to vote because of the presidential election. But many others mentioned other issues, too. Susan Samson, 47, said she came to cast her vote on judicial retention. Betsey Easton, 47, came to vote for a constitutional amendment that would make it harder for governments to increase retirement benefits for public employees.

"I'm worried," said Easton, as she left the polls. "Our government officials aren't stepping up and doing their jobs and making the tough decisions."

At the Burbank Fire Department, 21-year-old Christina Diaz announced it was her first time voting, eliciting a chorus of "Yays!" from the poll workers.

"It feels awesome," she said, showing off her "I voted" sticker.

The Moraine Valley Community College student was too young to vote in the last presidential election. She said she felt a little "left out" back in 2008.

"You're uninvolved," she said. "You want to make a difference but you can't."

She said she might try early voting next election season but wanted her first time to be in-person on Election Day. Diaz added that she voted for Obama.