Inside his Hyde Park campaign office, President Obama, wearing a white shirt and striped blue tie, greeted about 30 volunteers with hugs and smiles. He then began making surprise calls to Wisconsin campaign volunteers, thanking them for their hard work during the election.
Local campaign volunteers joined the President and made calls to battleground state voters, a volunteer said.
"The great thing about these campaigns is after all the TV ads, all the fundraising and all the debates and all the electioneering is it comes down to this," Obama said at the office. "One day. And these incredible folks who are working so hard, making phone calls, making sure the people go out to vote."
The president said Election Day is a "source of great optimism."
"I end up having so much confidence in the decency and goodness and wisdom of ordinary folks who are working so hard to try and move their own small piece of this county forward," he said.
As he exited the campaign office at about 9:20 a.m., the president greeted a small group of supporters who stood outside and cheered. One gave him a small shoe to autograph.
Students outside Kenwood Academy High School shouted and waved enthusiastically from across the street.
"You guys got to go back to class," Obama joked before his motorcade left for the Fairmont Hotel, where the president has scheduled interviews this afternoon.
Inside Shoesmith Elementary school, the polling site near Obama's home, Andrea Dalton, a 69-year-old Hyde Park resident, said she got to her polling place later than she would have liked because she was busy chatting with her neighbors, also Obama supporters.
"He has done a tremendous job in moving the country forward," Dalton said. "He had to dig us out of the hole that Bush left for us and it takes time to dig out of that hole."
Not everything went smoothly at the school, where the list of registered voters was missing, causing problems among voters there.
Election judge Peggy Studiger was frustrated as she handed out dozens of provisional ballots. Her supply was running low and the line went out the door.
"We've had more provisional ballots than ever before,” said Studiger. "We've got people who have been voting here for 20 years and they're mad."
Later, Preckwinkle told the Tribune that she was concerned about the number of provisional ballots required.
"I don't know how the canvassing was done, but there seems to be a problem," she said. "It's something we'll take up with the Board of Elections after the election."
Tribune reporter Katherina Skiba contributed.