Three weeks until Super Tuesday, but some states are already voting

Of the 10 Super Tuesday states, early voting is now under way in three: Vermont, Ohio, and Georgia. It begins in Tennessee on Wednesday. How early voting might affect the outcome. 

By , Staff writer

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    Early voters line up just before 7:00 a.m., to vote in the Carson City County Republican Caucus, Feb. 4, in Carson City, Nevada. With three weeks until Super Tuesday, early voting is now under way in three states: Vermont, Ohio, and Georgia.
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February is supposed to be the lull in the craziness of this year's GOP presidential primary, without a single contest between the Maine caucuses (which ended Saturday) and the Michigan and Arizona primaries on Feb. 28.

But Super Tuesday has already begun.

On Monday, early voting began for Georgia primary voters. The March 6 primary is three weeks off, but expect plenty of Georgians to vote between now and then.

Recommended: Election 101: What's the Republican primary calendar for 2012?

Of the 10 states where voting takes place on Super Tuesday, Georgia is the one with the most delegates: 76.

But other states are significant, too. Ohio, another big prize, began its early-voting period last week. And Vermont's began even earlier, a full 45 days before the primary is held.

Tennessee's begins Wednesday, and Oklahoma will have a brief period of early voting just before the primary.

In fact, of the states holding primaries (as opposed to caucuses), just two – Virginia and Massachusetts – don't have unrestricted early voting (but do offer absentee voting to anyone with a valid excuse).

Still, it remains to be seen how much, if at all, early voting affects the votes on Super Tuesday. If there's been one constant in this volatile GOP primary season, it's that voters are fickle and change their minds frequently and rapidly. Unusually high percentages of Republican primary voters are reporting – even just days before a nominating contest – that they're still not settled on a candidate.

This may make many voters reluctant to vote early, even when it's an option. Newt Gingrich has been wooing early voters in Ohio – and given his trajectory in the polls is probably happy for any votes he locked in last week – but reports show that voting activity there so far is sluggish.

Mr. GIngrich has also been hoping that Georgia, the biggest Super Tuesday prize, will be a lock for him, as a native son. But already some political experts are speculating that Rick Santorum could make some inroads into Gingrich's base there.

For now, Mr. Santorum is probably hoping that many Georgia voters don't take advantage of the open polls, but instead give him time to make his case.

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