A long and busy day of voting here in the People's Republic, as first day early voting numbers tripled the totals from four years ago.
The line was short at the beginning of the day at the Auditor's Office, with just a half dozen or so waiting when the window opened at 8. But traffic picked up and stayed steady all day for a total of 469. Party breakdown: 335 redgistered Democrats, 77 Republicans, and 56 no party voters. Four years ago, 150 people voted at the office on opening day.
But the BIG push was at the Iowa City Public Library, where a line of self starters formed early and was joined after 10 AM by a large crowd from a Democratic rally. 277 folks showed up at the library on early bird day in 2008, but today the number skyrocketed to 766: 521 Democrats, 45 Republicans and 198 independents.
I haven't had time to compare all the numbers, but a tally like 469 at the office and 766 at a satellite is more like what you see the week or the day before an election, not 40 days out. The only other satellites I can remember that topped the library today were University Hospitals the day before a presidential election, and some of the dorm sites in the 21 bar votes of 2007 and 2010.
But the importance of the day's massive sites, here and across the state, is about more than just the votes in the bank. The intense news coverage was priceless publicity that Iowans can vote now, and that publicity will send more people to the offices and satellites and mailboxes in the next 39 days.
It also says something about the nature of this election: people are so firmly decided that they literally can't wait to vote.
As for me, I did not vote today. I voted on Day One in 2004 and 2008; in 2000 I agonized for a long time over one contest. This year I'm planning to hit one of the other satellite sites and haven't decided which one yet.