With the huge turnout for early voting this year, one unanswered question is how long lines will be for the main event — next Tuesday’s presidential election finale.

More than 10,000 Evanston voters cast ballots early, according to Cook County Clerk David Orr, in this first presidential contest in which early voting was an option in Illinois.

Over 36,000 Evanstonians voted in the 2004 presidential election — a turnout of nearly 77 percent.

So it’s possible that lines will be substantially shorter than usual on Tuesday, unless the turnout percentage goes through the roof.

Final tallies from the clerk’s office show that Evanston had the sixth biggest early voting turnout of the 44 available polling locations in the suburbs.

Orr says the polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Tuesday and are likely to be least crowded between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Anyone in line when polls close at 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote, he added.

Total voter registrations in suburban Cook County are up about 4 percent from 2004 and Orr says they’ve set a new all-time record.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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