Two Iowa counties represent the polar opposites when it comes to the political parties.

Johnson County — the Iowa City area — is heavily Democratic while most of the voters registered in northwest Iowa’s Sioux County are Republicans. So what is turn-out in these key areas?

Johnson County Auditor Tom Slockett says voters in his county are setting a turn-out record for a “mid-term” election. “We had the highest election day turn-out since 1982, but in 1982 we had just about 1000 absentee ballots. This year we had about 15,000,” Slockett says. “If you add a record early turn-out plus the highest election day turn-out in 24 years, we’re well on the way to a record turn-out for a non-presidential election.”

The number of absentee ballot requests in Johnson County is up this year compared to Iowa’s last gubernatorial election in 2002. “We had about 16,000 absentee ballot requests and that’s several hundred more than the record number of requests in 2002,” Slockett says. He attributes the surge in Iowa City-area turn-out to the “spirited” race for governor, as well as the race for Iowa’s second congressional district seat.

Northwest Iowa’s Sioux County Auditor Lois Huitink says turn-out is “heavy.” She pegs participation at about 40 percent of registered voters. Huitink hasn’t been out of the office all day. “That’s just a guess on my part, but that’s what I’m anticipating at this point from what people have been telling me coming back in here,” she says.

In 2004, Sioux County voters helped President Bush carry the state by giving Bush over 14,000 votes compared to less than 2300 for Democrat John Kerry.