Early voting numbers mixed statewide - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Early voting numbers mixed statewide

WATERLOO (KWWL)-- Decision 2010 is creeping closer.  But Iowans are casting ballots much sooner than November 2. Absentee ballots will start to be counted tomorrow.  The requests for absentee ballots are down in several places, but that's not the case in Black Hawk County.

During the last governor election in 2006, 3400 voters in Black Hawk County cast their ballots early.  So far this year, 3600 requests for absentee ballots have been field.  And Thursday, advanced voting starts.  All those early votes could play a key role in the election's outcome.

Candidates are hard on the campaign trail with just a month-and-a-half until election day.  But at the Black Hawk County Courthouse, requests for early voting through absentee ballots have been pouring in for months.

"Well absentee balloting has become very popular over the last 10-15 years.  And we have seen a tremendous amount of growth in our county.  In 2010, we've been receiving absentee ballot requests probably as early as March and April, and they continue to accumulate," said Kyle Jensson, Black Hawk County elections manager.

But across the state, many counties are seeing just the opposite. The Des Moines Register reports that Democratic requests for absentee ballots in Polk County are down 19 percent from 2006, along with 39 percent fewer requests in Linn County.  There's been a 20 percent drop in requests in Johnson County.

"This may not bode as bad for the Democrats as it seems on paper.  There's still a lot of time before the election.  There's a lot of ways to get people to vote.  And the mere fact that fewer Democratic candidates have gotten absentee ballots now than four years ago, I don't think is  a trend of anything significant," Jeff Stein, KWWL political analyst.

But candidates are hoping that early votes are strong, so they'll have a better indication of how they're doing.  Still, some experts don't think that an abundance of absentees is a good way to get any particular candidate elected.

"During the last election for governor, nearly a quarter of Iowans who voted did so before election day.  But I think that's a really bad idea for elections and our democracy.  So much happens, especially in the last month before the election.  If you cast your ballot now, you might regret it later," said Stein.

In that case, voter turn-out on election day is the indicator of who walks away a winner.

Again, you can start advanced voting at your county's election office Thursday.  Satellite voting will also be available in many locations leading up to the election on November 2. 

It should also be noted that any candidate wanting to get a feel for those early voting results, can opt to pay for them.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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