WATERLOO, Iowa - Election day, November 6th, may be almost six weeks away. But Iowans can begin the voting process as early as 8:00 a.m. Thursday morning.
The Iowa Secretary of State's office reported 176,059 requests for an absentee ballot as of midday Wednesday. Requests from those registered as Democrats outnumbered Republicans by a margin of at least five to one.
In Black Hawk County, the number of absentee requests before the first day of early voting numbered 9,500. That's at least a 50 percent increase over the same date in 2008.
The Black Hawk County Auditor wouldn't be surprised if 30 to 40 percent of all ballots get cast absentee this year.
On Wednesday, election workers in Waterloo spent the day getting all those requests ready to go out in the mail. They say a lot of people are planning to return ballots as soon as possible.
Kyle Jensson, Black Hawk County election manager, said people mention a push by parties or just a feeling they'd like to get it out of the way and relax as a reason to get ballots back soon.
"They're anxious about it--it might be all the things you mentioned," Jensson said.
Another factor could be the belief that political phone calls will stop once parties or candidates discover a voter has already cast a ballot.
Dennis Gilbertson, who was picking up an absentee ballot for his daughter, said he still prefers to vote in person on election day.
"I'm used to doing it, I just like going," Gilbertson said.
But Greg Loy is more than used to going the absentee route.
"I drove a truck for many years so I'm used to voting absentee because I was on the road all the time," Loy said.
Those who requested an absentee ballot by mail in Black Hawk County should see something in the mailbox around Friday. But those who don't want to wait can show up at auditor's offices in all 99 Iowa counties at 8:00 a.m. Thursday and fill out a ballot on the spot.