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Youth Wave? Millennial Voter Turnout Expected To Break Record In 2018

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Millennial voters are expected to turn out to vote in droves across the country, and Chicago is no exception.

The West Loop neighborhood is the most popular place, per capita, for Millennials to live in all of the United States, according to housing blog Rent Café.

"With our generation, I feel like we're getting stronger, and coming out, and making sure our voice is heard," said outside a polling place in the West Loop.

Millennials packed the polls before sunrise in the West Loop, where election judges said the polling place saw more traffic by 7:30 a.m. than it normally does in eight hours.

It was a duty young voters didn't want to miss, even if it meant setting their alarm clocks early.

"I second-guessed the entire time I was waking up, and I was like, 'Ugh, do I have to do this?' But then I said, 'Yes, I have to go do this,' and the lines weren't bad," Dan Desmond said.

Millennials often are labeled apathetic, but already in Chicago, more millennials people between 22 and 37 years old have voted in the 2018 general election than in this year's primaries. A Harvard poll projects millennial turnout for both Democrats and Republicans to hit 40 percent nationwide this year.

That's nearly double the record for millennial turnout.

"Millennials and younger voters, I am so excited by your increased participation in this election," said Marisel Hernandez, chairwoman of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. "We know you can do better, and we're hoping that you'll close the gap. Come out and vote."

At Eric Hampton's polling place in the South Shore neighborhood, a bustling elementary school gym was encouraging, especially with what's at stake. While no millennial himself, he said it was good to see the voting site so busy.

"The race for the government, for the governor, I think that's the most important," he said.

Election judges in South Shore estimated turnout will be average for Election Day, but believe early voting will boost the overall number of ballots cast.

"Most of the booths in there were occupied, and I usually don't have to wait, but I had to wait to fill out everything," voter Alfred Anderson said.

That Harvard study indicated younger voters care mostly about jobs, specifically a federal guarantee of positions that pay $15 per hour, with sick and family leave.

Millennials also are passionate about lower, or even free college tuition.

Even kids who can't vote yet are getting involved in the election, volunteering as student election judges.

"We have over 2,100 high school students who have volunteered to work throughout our 2,069 precinct polling places," Hernandez said. "This is a new record."

Other students are planning walkouts at high schools and colleges on Tuesday to encourage voting.

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