Thursday, April 24, 2008

Election Day Starts Today

Election Day Starts Today

The countdown to the June 3 primary reaches 40 days today, and that's a major milestone. Early voting begins at auditor's offices across the state, and the first absentee ballots are in the mail.

Iowa has one of the longest early voting periods in the nation, and that has changed the state's political landscape since the law change in 1990 that allowed any Iowan to vote early for any reason. In effect, election day is now nearly six weeks long.

Before 1990, when voters had to have a notarized reason such as a medical excuse or out of town business on election day, Iowa's absentee rate was down around 5 percent. Now, in general elections, it's closer to 25 percent, and approaches 50 percent in some counties.

Those high absentee rates in general elections are driven by political party efforts, mostly by Democrats. Early voting in primaries isn't usually that heavy, but a well organized campaign can get its votes in the bank before election day.

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