President Obama asks Giannoulias supporters to vote early in Illinois

President Obama recorded a robo-call for Illinois Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, asking supporters to vote early.

Obama's call went out Monday to 800,000 Democrats who are likely to vote for Giannoulias, according to the Democrat's campaign. In the call, the president urges them to avoid lines and bad weather by voting early or by mail.

"This is Barack Obama calling on behalf of Alexi Giannoulias. With polls showing my good friend Alexi in a close race, your vote is crucial. Early voting is already under way, and I strongly urge you to go vote today. Also, for the first time ever you can vote by mail,” Obama said, according to the script.

Giannoulias is battling against Republican Mark Kirk for the seat once held by the president. Obama's call could help boost African-American turnout, which is expected to drop significantly from 2008 levels. Black turnout in Illinois was 17 percent of the vote in 2008. One Democratic pollster recently told The Ballot Box they estimated that this year, the figure could be as low as 11 percent. That could spell trouble for Giannoulias, Gov. Pat Quinn (D) and other candidates, as African-Americans are a solidly Democratic voting bloc in Illinois.

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