Early voting begins today


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Today marks the first day people can vote on the many races and issues on this year's ballot — including the highly controversial 21-ordinance.

Both pro- and anti-21 ordinance campaigns said they are pushing for people to get out and vote before election day on Nov. 2, though some students said they feel many people are unaware voting begins today.

Matt Pfaltzgraf, the coordinator of the anti-21-ordinance group Yes to Entertaining Students Safety, said he is confident there will be a large turnout of early voters, estimating "90 percent of students are going to vote before Election Day." The membership of the anti-21 group is made up largely of students.

Early voting will begin today at 10 a.m. at the Iowa City Public Library, 123 S. Linn St.

Pfaltzgraf said his group's members will put fliers on doors and remind people online about early voting.

As of Sept. 17, the members petitioned 22 sites for satellite voting locations, most of which are University of Iowa sites.

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Nick Westergaard of 21 Makes Sense — the pro 21-ordinance group — said he thinks this will be a unique election.

"The turnout is going to be different, and everyone is pushing for early voting," he said.

But while the 21-ordinance may be a major issue on the ballot, it's not the only one. Voters will also elect the state's governor, a U.S. senator, and the 2nd Congressional District representative.

City Councilor Susan Mims said a large number of early voters wouldn't necessarily be due to the 21-ordinance.

"There are a lot of important things on the ballot," she said. "So I think we could see a higher turnout than we have in the past."

According to the website of the Johnson County Auditor's Office, 7,255 people voted early in the 2007 November elections — the last time a 21-ordinance was on the ballot. Overall, 15,728 people voted at the polls that year.

"There was a marked increase of 18- to 24-year-olds in 2007, and it would likely increase in voting [this year]," said Auditor Tom Slockett.

Voters are allowed to vote on one issue and leave the rest of the ballot blank if they wish, he said.
And while organizers are hoping for a bigger turnout this year, some students say they haven't seen as much promotion of voting.

For example, UI sophomore Michelle Hand said she thinks there is a lack of knowledge about voting.

"There hasn't been very much advertising to vote," she said.

Other voting sites will open at Phillips Hall starting Sept. 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., along with Burge on Sept. 28 and Kirkwood Community College on Sept. 30.

The Iowa Democratic Party will hold an event Friday to kick off early voting at the group's Iowa City headquarters.

Sam Roecker, communications director for the Iowa Democrats, said the group decided to host the 7:30 a.m. event to emphasize and highlight the importance of early voting.

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