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Suburban Republican early voting is up only slightly despite presidential race

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich shakes hands Thursday at Lake in the Hills Airport. (Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune / March 15, 2012)

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich shakes hands Thursday at Lake in the Hills Airport. (Stacey Wescott, Chicago Tribune / March 15, 2012)

Despite a closely contested Illinois presidential primary, early voting among suburban Republican voters is up only marginally from four years ago — a sign that turnout Tuesday may be lackluster.

The preliminary figures, compiled from area election authorities on Thursday, the final day of early voting, also could portend a close race in Illinois, where Mitt Romney had figured to do well in suburban areas with rival Rick Santorum expected to garner downstate support.

Overall, the number of early ballots cast in the Chicago area was down significantly from 2008. Back then, the state held its presidential primary in February and headlining the ballot was a Democratic presidential battle between then home-state Sen. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

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