Voting for the November election is already underway in Iowa, as yesterday was the first day Iowans could go into their county auditor’s office to cast a ballot. Yesterday was also the first day county auditors could sent out absentee ballots, and Iowa democrats are claiming a big lead in the push for that kind of “early voting.” Democrats began knocking on doors and giving voters forms to request absentee ballots back in June, and Iowa Democratic Party executive director Jean Hessberg says far more registered democrats have asked for the ballots than registered republicans. Hessberg says the party’s receives updates from about 35 auditors around the state and it looks like they’re “up” by about 35-thousand supporters when compared to the republican absentee ballot request. Hessberg says in a race as tight as this year’s contest, every person they can convince to vote early will make a difference. She points to the Gore-Bush presidential contest four years ago. Hessberg says Al Gore actually lost on election day in Iowa, but won by 4011 votes because he outpaced Bush in absentee ballots. She says that’s only a little over two votes per precinct, so every vote counts in this election. But Dave Roederer, the head of the Bush – Cheney campaign in Iowa, says democrats are just flaunting their absentee ballot program because polls show slipping support for John Kerry. He says democrats are concerned where the momentum is going and worried Kerry backers may switch to Bush, so they want to get them to vote as quickly as they can. Roederer concedes that traditionally democrats have had an edge in absentee voting, but he says republicans have better election-day turnout. Roederer says the GOP usually begins an absentee ballot push of its own later than democrats, knowing most people don’t like to vote that early. And Roederer scoffs at Hessburg’s claim of supremacy in an early count of absentee ballot requests. Roederer compares it to someone saying that after polls opened at seven in the morning they must be winning because they’re ahead at nine A.M. He says what makes the difference is how many have voted at nine o’clock at night. Roederer says absentee ballots are also unpredictable and just because someone chooses a republican or democrat presidential candidate doesn’t mean they’ll favor that party all the way down the ballot.
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