Voter turnout numbers down despite big push for early voting

A technician tests a voting machine in Black Hawk County ahead of the 2016 election, Monday,...
A technician tests a voting machine in Black Hawk County ahead of the 2016 election, Monday, October 24, 2016. (Alison Snider/KCRG-TV9)(KCRG)
Published: Nov. 5, 2016 at 10:43 PM CDT
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Despite the big push for early voting this cycle, voting turnout numbers could be better. Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate hopes to help change that.

Voting before Tuesday has become a popular and convenient way to avoid long lines and schedule conflicts on Election Day.

Margaret MacInnis says she wanted her daughter to see what it was like.

"I wanted her to be a part of the process and since she will be at kindergarten on Tuesday," MacInnis said.

"I don't really have much time throughout the day because I have class and I have work and I just thought that every vote counts and I might as well just come in whenever I had the chance to," early voter Joe Benitez said.

In Iowa, early voting numbers are actually down seven percent, compared to this time in 2012. Back then-- nearly 47,000 more voted early, three days out.

Pate attributes the drop to a divisive pair of presidential candidates. He thinks people waiting until the last moment to cast their ballot.

"When you look at it right now, over 40 percent of Iowans have voted before election day," Pate said.

To keep turnout like that high, Pate said state officials are constantly coming up with ways to increase voter accessibility and communication.

Iowa has partnered with Facebook to alert users when they can vote.

There's also this new webpage called My Iowa Vote, which may help get people to the polls outside of presidential elections.

"People can sign up on their phones or computers and they get text messaging so it will remind them and say 'hey there's an election a school board election or presidential election would you like an absentee ballot?'" Pate said.