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Early Voter Turnout Expected to Break 2010 Midterm Record

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DES MOINES, Iowa - If you're the early voting-type, you've got one more day to get that absentee ballot in before Election Day. While midterm elections rarely see a turnout close to the level presidential elections get, officials say early voting has increased in this election cycle, compared to the last midterm in 2010.

"I think a lot of what we're seeing, with the uptick from 2010 to 2014, clearly, is basically how quickly this race has been changing," said Polk County Auditor, Jamie Fitzgerald. "Every day, there's a new poll out. Every day, there's a new leader, a new percentage. So I really think people are out there saying, 'You know what, I'm going to make my voice heard today.'"

Fitzgerald says, just in Polk County, since early voting started in September, his office has seen an average of 400 people per day come in to vote early. Statewide, that trend is still true; as of Thursday, October 29, the Iowa Secretary of State's office reported that out of 492,249 absentee ballots sent out, 370,616 have been returned. That's a return-rate of about 70% - something Fitzgerald says is uncommon in a non-presidential election year.

"People are getting more comfortable with it," he said. "Sitting at your coffee table, going through the Internet, seeing what the candidate's positions are. Watching it on TV, seeing the ads, getting the phone calls, getting the door-knocks. You're seeing a lot more people getting comfortable with the process."

While Democrats are normally the party that turns out the most early voters, Fitzgerald says Republicans are breaking records this year, too.

"The trend right now, is, Republicans are up a little bit more than they were in 2010, and the Democrats are just about where they were in 2010," he said. "Well, in terms of just returns - requests, they're both up, substantially."

No matter who wins some of Iowa's most heated races this cycle, Fitzgerald says one thing is for sure: Iowa, as a whole, will "win" in terms of early voter turnout for the 2014 election.

"We are going to beat the 2010 number - that's going to happen," he said.