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With early voting, Election Day is around the corner, even if Nov. 6 isn't

With 32 states plus the District of Columbia allowing in-person early voting, the Obama and Romney campaigns are deep into their early-voting strategies.

By Staff writer / September 11, 2012

A woman votes at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in Cleveland on Jan. 31 as early voting began in Ohio's March presidential primary.

Tony Dejak/AP/File

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Washington

Feeling as if Election Day is just around the corner? That’s because in some states, it is.

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The Monitor's Liz Marlantes looks at the potential electoral-college math post-convention to see which candidate might be in a better position.

In-person early voting starts later this month in several states, including the tossup state of Iowa, where the polls open Sept. 27.

In October, more states join in, including Ohio – one of the most important battlegrounds of all. Voting there starts Oct. 2, before even the first presidential debate on Oct. 3. Polls in two more swing states, Nevada and Colorado, open Oct. 20 and 22, respectively. In Florida, the decisive state in 2000, voting starts Oct. 27.

Overall, 32 states plus the District of Columbia allow in-person early voting. All states allow absentee voting, and 27 plus the District of Columbia don’t require an excuse. Two states, Oregon and Washington, conduct elections by mail.

Bottom line: More than ever, the idea that campaigns are aiming for the first Tuesday in November – this year, Nov. 6 – is a thing of the past.

So it comes as no surprise that the presidential campaigns are already deep into their early-voting strategies. President Obama makes a particularly strong pitch for early voting on college campuses, where he enjoys wide support but not of the same intensity as four years ago. First he tells students to go to GottaRegister.com – with apologies to their English teachers – then to another site that will help them cast a ballot.

“If you need to know how to vote, including early vote here in Iowa, go to GottaVote.com,” Mr. Obama told students last Friday at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. “I’m asking you not only to register and vote. I need you to go after your friends, talk to your parents, talk to your cousins, aunts, uncles, cousins, whoever you got.”

The Romney campaign and Republicans, too, are working on early-vote outreach, but with different emphasis. Senior citizens, who break for Romney in polls, often vote absentee, as do members of the military, another Republican-leaning constituency.

The Obama campaign is “whistling past the graveyard if they think we do not know how to do turnout,” Romney’s political director, Rich Beeson, told The Washington Post. He pointed to the 2004 race, in which Republicans “had the largest volunteer ground game ever assembled.”

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