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Large Absentee Numbers Mean Fewer Lines at Polling Places

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- The number of people who voted absentee is definitely having an impact on the usual voting day experience in Linn County.

As of 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, a total of 40,097 out of 154,380 eligible voters can gone to the polls in person. That's approximately 26% of all voters. But that's not counting the absentee numbers. A total of 46,295 people in Linn County voted early and when you add that to the in-person total for voting day, that's a 56% total turnout as of mid-afternoon.

Linn County Auditor Joel Miller said the number of people who cast an absentee ballot, right at 30% countywide, has meant less waiting in line at polling places. The experience at Cedar Rapids precinct 24, located at Bethany Lutheran Church, is pretty typical. One poll worker said people were lined up to get in when the doors opened. But there was little in the way of waiting after that although traffic was steady.

A few voters did notice the difference. Mike Riley, who voted at Washington High School, said "there was a lighter crowd—yeah, I did notice there was a lighter crowd."

But when asked why she preferred to come out on election day, Lisa Huffer said "Oh, to see who is coming to vote here and to see if it's anybody I know."

The percentage of absentee voting in Cedar Rapids precincts ranged from a low of 21% to a high of 41%.

Auditor Miller is predicting an 80% turnout this election year fueled, in part, by the higher absentee numbers. If true, that would eclipse the 77% turnout recorded in the last presidential election year of 2008.

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