This is sort of “election eve” in Iowa, since early voting for the November election starts tomorrow. Requests for absentee ballots are double what they were at this point in the 2010 election year.
“More and more people just like the convenience of voting absentee,” says Matt Schultz, the state’s commissioner of elections.
In the 2012 presidential election, 43 percent of Iowa voters cast their ballots before Election Day and this year both political parties are pushing supporters to vote early. Democrats have been holding events throughout the state since June, going door to door in neighborhoods to identify potential voters. Bruce Braley, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, met on a Saturday in mid-September with a group of volunteers who were canvassing in central Iowa.
“We have a lot of work together and the biggest thing you need to hear from me today is: ‘Thank you,'” Braley said. “…There’s so much at stake in this election, we can’t let up now.”
Iowans will be presented with just two federal races in 2014, with a chance to vote for their picks for the U.S. Senate and for the U.S. House, but there are also six statewide races, as well as countless local races for the legislature and county offices.
“A rising tide lifts all boats and the more we turn out people in county races, state races, in these congressional races, in this gubernatorial race, the better chance I have to be your next senator,” Braley said.
Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for Iowa’s open U.S. Senate seat, rallied earlier this week with Republicans in Jasper County and made the pitch for “early” votes.
“If you think you might not be able to make it on Election Day, go ahead. Go to your auditor’s office. Make sure you’re filing out that absentee ballot request form and voting there at the auditor’s office. If you have satellite voting, do it at a satellite (voting location),” Ernst said. “Do it by mail…They’ve made it so easy for us to vote by absentee.”
Republicans have traditionally focused on Election Day turn-out, but Iowa Democrats in a series of special elections and the past two presidential elections have effectively piled up advantages in early votes that Republicans couldn’t overcome on Election Day. Three weeks ago, with a bit of fanfare, Iowa Republicans started their own door-to-door canvassing across the state and Ernst is making the pitch for early voting during her campaign appearances.
“If you know of a neighbor that maybe doesn’t vote in these midterm elections, help them out, too,” Ernst said in Newton Monday night. “Get them an absentee voter request and encourage them to vote early.”
Ernst, along with Governor Branstad and two other Republicans seeking statewide offices will hold campaign events in five Iowa cities Thursday to mark the start of early voting. Iowa Democrats have planned “Early Voting Kickoff” events in 13 different cities tomorrow.
Iowa is one of 33 states which allow voters to cast their ballots during an early voting period, no questions asked. Nine states, including Iowa, allow voting to start in September. In Iowa, starting tomorrow, you can vote in person at a county auditor’s office or at a temporary satellite voting station set up by the county auditor’s office. You may also mail an absentee ballot starting tomorrow.