President Barack Obama today returned to the South Side and cast an early vote near his Kenwood home.
While at the Martin Luther King Community Center in Bronzeville, Obama bantered with the election judge when he presented his ID.
"Now ignore the fact that there's no gray hair on that picture," the Democratic president told the elections official. He added: "I'm just glad I renewed my driver's license."
Obama then made a pitch for early voting that was clearly aimed at voters in states where the outcome will be tighter than in his home state.
“For all of you who have not yet early voted, I just want everybody to see what an incredibly efficient process this was thanks to the outstanding folks who are at this particular polling place," the president said. "Obviously, folks in Illinois can take advantage of this. But 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, figure out how to pick up the kids and still cast a ballot," he added. "If something happens on election day you will have already taken care of it. If it’s bad weather you won’t get wet. Or in Chicago, snowy. But this was really convenient."
"I can’t tell you who I voted for. But I very much appreciate everybody here. It’s good to be home back in the neighborhood," he said.
Obama also stopped at a campaign office in Hyde Park this afternoon. He told campaign workers in the office at the corner of Harper Avenue and Hyde Park Boulevard that voter turnout will determine the presidential election.
"Now the good news is, if our voters do turn out, we will definitely win the election," Obama told volunteers. Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have both shifted into "get out the vote" mode as Election Day nears. The president's special stop in Chicago to cast an early ballot was an opportunity for him to urge supporters in swing states to do the same.
The president then spoke on the phone to a campaign volunteer in Iowa.
It was a short stay. The president departed Chicago on Air Force One two hours after he touched down. The president's plane left O'Hare international Airport at 5:30 p.m.
Obama is the first sitting president to cast an in-person early ballot.
Democrats have been aggressively trying to gain an advantage over Republicans in states that allow early voting. When Obama announced that he would be voting early, he said on Twitter, "If your state has early voting, join me," and directed followers to a link with more information about early voting.
Obama dominated early voting in 2008, giving him an edge over Republican John McCain well before Election Day.
In Colorado, Florida, Iowa and North Carolina, for example, Obama banked so many votes early in the process that he won each state even though he lost the Election Day vote, according to voting data compiled by The Associated Press.
Obama has repeatedly urged supporters to vote early, placing an emphasis on absentee and early voting during recent rallies in battleground states such as Florida, Iowa and Ohio. The strategy aims to free up campaign workers and volunteers on Nov. 6 to focus on a smaller number of potential supporters and make sure they get to the polls.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign has targeted supporters who don't typically vote in every election, placing a premium on getting those voters to cast early ballots. Most of Romney's remaining supporters would be people who are much more likely to vote, regardless of whether they are contacted by the campaign.
Obama's campaign has tried to bolster in-person early voting in states where that is already under way and reduce Republicans' typical advantage in absentee voting. Democrats lead Republicans in Iowa in vote-by-mail ballots and in-person early voting; in Ohio, Democrats have requested and cast more ballots than Republicans. In Florida, Obama's campaign has cut into the GOP's advantage in absentee ballots.
Analysts estimate that about one-third of all voters could cast their ballots before Election Day.
Contributing: Associated PressCopyright © 2015, RedEye