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Justin Long visits the University of Iowa to promote early voting

BY BRIANNA JETT | OCTOBER 16, 2012 6:30 AM

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Iowa was the first state this year to begin early voting and, so far, a greater number of Democrats have voted.

Beginning on Sept. 27, Iowa began a 40-day early voting period. Fifty-three satellite locations opened — a record number of which are on college campuses. Although both the Romney campaign and the Obama campaign encourage early voting, the Democrats have reached out to voters through celebrity appearances and are currently leading the polls.

“If you’re getting your base to request those ballots, it probably means you have more votes in the bank,” said University of Iowa political-science Associate Professor Tim Hagle.

According to the Office of the Iowa Secretary of State, 115,280 Democrats had voted, compared with 62,152 Republicans, as of Oct. 12. These votes were either absentee votes or votes made at a satellite location.

“The Democrats have long had a much better early voting program than the Republicans,” Hagle said.

In fact, Elizabeth Purchia, the press secretary for Obama’s Iowa campaign, said early voting is a key strategy in the Obama campaign.

“The early voting provides better opportunities for people,” Hagle said. “The demographics that usually support Democrats might need a little more time or might need a little nudge to get out and vote.”

Officials say this is especially applicable to college students.

“The Romney campaign is encouraging early voting,” said Quentin Marquez, the vice chairman of the University of Iowa College Republicans. “We are all busy as college students — it makes it very convenient.”

Hagle said that when young people are busy, they tend not to prioritize voting.

“For students, sometimes if you wait until Election Day, it might not be quite an important even as it is for older voters who are more engaged,” he said.

On Monday, the Obama campaign brought actor Justin Long to campus in order to encourage early voting.

Long spoke to a crowd of students and Obama volunteers on the Pentacrest, encouraging all students to be informed and vote. Iowa is the seventh state he has visited.

“The one message that I’ve been getting out, along with my fellow actors, is that it is just incredibly important to vote,” Long said in his address.

Obama volunteer and UI student Oliver Hidalgo-Wohlleben also stressed the importance of voting.

“I think it is really important that we take advantage of our chance to exercise our democratic right, especially when it is so much easier to do it in a two week time-frame,” Hidalgo-Wohlleben said. “We are really lucky in Iowa to have a chance to vote early.”

In an interview with The Daily Iowan, Long explained the importance of early voting lies in convenience.

“If you can’t show up on Election Day, it ensures that your voice is heard,” he said.

Long stressed that even though he has only recently become politically aware, he can still connect with students.

“I identify with any sort of student loan issue and paying for tuition. These were things that I struggled with,” Long said, who had to leave college partway through because it became unaffordable.

At the end of the day, he hopes students will vote, respecting both sides of the race.

“This is the easiest state to vote in,” he said. “There’s no reason anybody shouldn’t vote.”


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