Iowa became the first swing state to allow voters to cast ballots in person this week, a provision of state election law that the Obama campaign has seized upon. In the opening hours of voting on Thursday, supporters of the president dominated the line here in the state’s biggest city. They were easily identifiable by their blue Obama 2012 stickers that declared, “Be the First!”
A steady stream of voters walked into election offices across the state to cast their ballots. They will be joined by voters in Ohio next week, along with 30 states where some type of voting is already under way.
In Florida, North Carolina, Colorado and Nevada, both campaigns believe that as much as 70 percent of the ballots will be cast before Election Day. And in Ohio, Wisconsin and Iowa, advisers to both campaigns said at least 30 percent of people are expected to vote early.
The Iowa Secretary of State’s office said Democrats had a 5-to-1 advantage over Republicans in the numbers of absentee ballots requested statewide. Republicans said the numbers would level out over the next 40 days.
“We are going to close that gap in Iowa,” said Rick Wiley, political director of the Republican National Committee. “Democrats in Iowa have a propensity to cannibalize their Election Day voters. What they’ve done is find people who would vote on Election Day anyway.”
At the election office, as Nancy Bobo, 60 stood with other Obama supporters on the first day of early voting, she said she wondered where Mr. Romney’s supporters were.
“I don’t see them,” she said with a smile. “But we’re not taking anything for granted. We still have 40 days to go. You never know, things can change on a dime.”
But in the northwest corner of Iowa, more than 200 miles away in the town of Orange City, Gert Kooi, 76, was among those voting for Mr. Romney on Thursday.
“I voted today because we might not be here on Election Day, and my mind is long made up,” Ms. Kooi said in an interview. She added, “We just don’t care for Obama here.”
Tom Zawistowski, president of the Ohio Liberty Coalition, a group affiliated with the Tea Party, sent a message to encourage members to consider voting early. He wrote:
“I know we do not like absentee voting or early voting at all, but it is a key part of our election equation now and we need to understand how to use it to our advantage just like the other side does.”
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