EARLY VOTING: Iowa Has A Good Thing

It’s one the few things in modern politics drawing bi-partisan support…

“I think we want any opportunity for voters to get out and vote, so it’s a good thing,” says Iowa legislator, Chris Hagenow (R-Windsor Heights).

Iowa is among 32 states that offer early ballots.

“I think people have really busy schedules,” says Hagenow’s Iowa House challenger, Susan Judkins, “and they want to be sure that they get a chance to have their say.”

In 2008, 36% of Iowa’s votes were cast ahead of Election Day…other states saw more than that.

“I think if you have your decision made, it’s good to just go ahead and vote,” says Christina Sibouih, a Judkins supporter.

For those with out-of-town plans on November 6th, it’s all the difference.

“I much prefer to go to the polls on election day, but, what can I do?” shrugs Joyce Brown, a voter who says she’ll be visiting her daughter outside Iowa on Election Day.

Four years ago, Democrats had a 5-1 advantage to Republicans in absentee ballots requested.

“People who tend to vote early,” says Sen. Tom Harkin (D), “tend to people who understand what’s at stake, know the candidates, know their positions.”

“Democrats are very good at their absentee voter program,” Hagenow admits, “they’ve been doing that for several months, but my sense is that Republicans are doing a whole lot better this year than they have in the past and really making that gap up.”

For state legislature candidates like Hagenow and his opponent, Susan Judkins, it meant a shorter window to campaign. Both moved up their time tables.

“In fact,” Judkins says, “we had initially planned to start sending mail pieces about the middle of October and realized as several thousand early ballot requests had come in before October 1st, we needed to move that up.”

Both local and national legislators agree early ballots appear to be here to stay.

“We have to break this old mold–why is an election just one day?” Harkin asks.

Brown says there is another benefit to voting early.  She now hits the “mute” button everytime a campaign ad appears on TV.

“Forget it!” Brown laughs. “I don’t answer the phone, I don’t look at the political ads. I have voted! I’m done! I’m through.”

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