The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

The Outlook for Early Voting? Well, It’s Early.


If you’ve been wondering how absentee ballots and early voting are going . . .

Jon Keeling looks at some Ohio counties:

Republicans requesting absentees jumped from 36k to nearly 49k compared to the same time in 2008. What have Democrats done in the same time? They’ve gone from 152k requests at this time in 2008 down to 118k this year. Republicans have spiked. Democrats have plummeted. Yes, Cuyahoga will still most definitely go to Ted Strickland, but the absentee numbers clearly indicate enthusiasm levels are nowhere near the levels seen in 2008, and that’s bad news for the crown jewel of the liberal base in Ohio. . . . On to Franklin County: Franklin has seen 155,651 absentee requests for this general election. Despite a 65/35 partisan advantage for Democrats, absentee requests are statistically tied. Of all absentee requests, 38,561 are Democrats and 37,690 are Republicans.

Elsewhere in the state, in Hamilton County, Ohio:

The early voting totals favor the Republicans: 15,650 Republicans have voted so far, compared to 13,270 Democrats and 9,335 independents.


The latest figures issued by the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office showed statewide 115,017 Democrats had requested absentee ballots and 60,156 had been received by county auditors, while 92,128 Republicans had made similar requests and 41,321 ballots had been received. Overall, the 249,513 requests for absentee ballots this fall had surpassed 2002 and 2006 early-voting totals.

This is apparently a smaller margin than Democrats have come to expect.

Yet in South Dakota, it’s way down:

At this time in 2006 — which similarly had races for House and governor but not for senator or president — 5,400 Pennington County voters had requested absentee ballots. This year, the number is around 3,300. The same pattern shows in Meade and Custer counties.. In Meade County, just over 600 people had requested absentee ballots by the middle of this week. At this time in 2006 and 2008, the number was around 1,500, Schieffer said. Custer County early voting numbers are around 550 now, compared with around 890 in 2008. Secretary of State Chris Nelson said auditors around the state have told him a similar story.

And in South Carolina, requests for absentee ballots are down:

Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said Wednesday the numbers are in line with the state’s last gubernatorial election. With three weeks until Election Day, 54,322 voters statewide had requested absentee ballots. People can vote absentee either by mail or in person at county election offices. In the 2006 general election, nearly 76,000 voters cast absentee ballots. But absentee requests are far below the record numbers from 2008. In the last presidential election, more than 342,000 people voted absentee. That was nearly 18 percent of total ballots cast.

And in Arkansas, an embarrassing error:

A ballot printing error for the November general elections left one race completely off the forms, a mistake that will affect those who have already submitted their early ballots in Union County. The 801 votes garnered by Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. during early voting and the 202 absentee ballots sent out did not include the non-partisan runoff between Court of Appeals Judge Karen Baker and Judge Tim Fox for an open Arkansas Supreme Court position.

UPDATE: One more key one:

Early-voting numbers out of Nevada’s two biggest counties could spell trouble for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in his tough contest against Republican Sharron Angle. In Reno’s Washoe County and Las Vegas’s Clark County, Republican turnout was disproportionately high over the first three voting days, according to local election officials. The two counties together make up 86 percent of the state’s voter population. The sparsely populated counties outside Clark and Washoe, which have yet to report complete early-voting results, are strongly Republican. Some 47 percent of early voters in the bellwether Washoe County so far have been Republicans, while 40 percent have been Democrats, according to the Washoe County Registrar. Nearly 11,000 people had voted in Washoe over the first three days of early voting, which began Saturday.

ANOTHER UPDATE: At R+14, it’s hardly a competitive Texas district, but the turnout number in this anecdote from Eric in Round Rock, Texas, is interesting: “Asked one of the folks at the polling place about the early voting turnout. She said, ‘In an off-election year, we can get as little as 11 people voting a day.  We’ve averaged about 350 per day so far.’ I’d say people here are motivated to vote.”

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: This one’s a big one:

Pennsylvania voters have requested nearly 127,000 absentee ballots so far. Of that total, Republican voters made up 50 percent and Democrats made up 42 percent, according to figures collected Tuesday afternoon.  The state records show Republicans are returning their absentee ballots in greater numbers as well. The state has received about 40 percent of requested ballots, and Republican registrations outpace Democrats by 19 points, 56 percent to 37 percent, according to the state data.

Tags: Iowa , Ohio


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