Voters in Webster County still have time to cast their early ballots, less than two weeks before Election Day.
Since Sept. 27, registered voters across Iowa have been voting early, whether in person at their county auditor's office, by mail or at a satellite voting booth.
Locally, Webster County Auditor Carol Messerly said 6,276 ballots had been cast for the 2012 general election, as of the end of the day Wednesday.
-Messenger photo by Peter Kaspari
Richard Hanson, of Fort Dodge, votes in the Webster County auditor’s office Thursday. Hanson said he decided to vote early in order to avoid the crowd on Election Day.
Of those who have voted, Messerly said 50 percent were registered as Democrats, 26 percent Republican and 24 percent had no party affiliation.
Messerly doesn't expect those figures to change much between now and Election Day.
"My guess is that it'll be comparable to 2008 with less than two weeks left," she said. "But I've been surprised before."
During the 2008 general election, Messerly said 6,012 absentee ballots were counted, which was about 32 percent of the ballots cast in the county.
Richard Hanson, of Fort Dodge, voted on Thursday at the auditor's office.
"I just wanted to avoid the crowds on Election Day," he said.
Hanson said he believes it's good that Iowa allows voters to cast their ballots early.
"You just get caught up in the political process and want to get a jump on it," he said.
The most common way early voters are casting their ballots is by mail.
"We have about 16 percent voting in person, and 84 percent by mail," she said. "Over the years, it's evolved to that point."
Some voters have cast their ballots at one of three satellite voting booths, which are set up if a petition is presented to the auditor's office with at least 100 signatures requesting one.
"We had one at Iowa Central where 146 voted, and 19 voted at Coppen Chapel," Messerly said.
The third satellite voting station was Thursday at Athletics For Education and Success; it was open from 2 to 8 p.m. As of 4:15 p.m. Thursday, Messerly said 14 people had voted there.
Although many people have voted early, Messerly doesn't expect that to affect turnout on Nov. 6.
"In 2008, all the precincts had a busy day," she said. "They had a continual stream of people coming in to vote, even though more than 6,000 voted early. I'd expect that to be the same this year."
Messerly said there's still time to vote early, but there are a number of important deadlines coming up if people are interested.
"This Saturday at 5 p.m. is the deadline for preregistration," she said. "You can still register and vote on Election Day, but if you do that you'll need to present ID at your polling place."
The last time the auditor's office will mail out a ballot is 5 p.m. on Nov. 2. After that early voting will only be done in person at the auditor's office.
"We're open from 8 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 3, and we're open from 8 to 5 p.m. on that Monday," Messerly said. "Now, for a person to return an absentee ballot, it must be postmarked by Nov. 5 to be counted. They can also bring in absentee ballots to the office by the time the polls close on Tuesday, Nov. 6."