Battle for Early Voting in Iowa Begins

Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann says the battle for the early vote in Iowa is on.

“We needed to close the gap. On Election Day we would have a legislative candidate for instance that might start out a thousand votes down,” said Kaufmann.

That’s why Kaufmann says in 2014 the Iowa GOP made a concerted effort to get out the early vote.

So far, the gap is closing.

According to, in 2008 Republicans made up fewer than 30 percent of the absentee ballots. In 2014 that number jumped up to almost 39 percent.

The GOP says the big push for early voting starts Friday, and they hope to see the results. According to the secretary of state's latest numbers, Republicans makeup only 22 percent of the absentee ballots returned so far.

“Republicans still prefer to vote on Election Day so we have to do a little more education, a little more prodding, Democrats still prefer, or at least more democrats prefer to vote absentee,” said Kaufmann.

And that's what Democratic leaders like. They say it helps them focus more on who they need to sway come November.

“If you can have people do that ahead of time, then we can concentrate more on the people that haven’t gotten to the polls yet, and I think that really helps us make sure that we turn out Democrats; because if we turn out Democrats, we win,” said Iowa Democratic Chairwoman Dr. Andy McGuire.

Voters say that aside from the political side of things, absentee voting is just easier.

“It’s very important, if you do your absentee ballot request, you get your ballot in the mail, that way if it turns out to be bad weather on that day, you’re not able to get away from work, you don’t have to worry about it, it’s already banked,” said Trump supporter Kristin Eklov.

Those in the political arena say it can have a mental impact on candidates fighting a tight race.

“You show up on election day and have the county auditor tell you, ‘well you’ve got 2,000 Democratic absentee votes and 1,000 Republican’, and it’s like, oh boy”; and of course at this point in time to roll out of bed and knock on another 500 doors you need a little boost, and I think absentee votes give candidates that as well,” said Kaufmann.

In-person absentee voting started Thursday. Voters can head to their county auditor to cast their ballot.