Iowa isn’t only the first state to kick off the presidential primaries -- it’s also the first swing state in the country to begin early voting for the November election.
Iowa voters can begin in-person voting on Thursday at country auditors’ offices, which will also be offered at churches, grocery stories and college campuses in the next few weeks, NPR reports. The Hawkeye is one of 32 states, as well as the District of Columbia, that allows residents to cast their ballots before November, either at an election official’s office or, in some states, other satellite voting locations.
South Dakota, Idaho and Vermont (the first two solidly Republican, the other a sure bet for the Democratic presidential candidate) have already begun in-person voting, but Iowa is the first of the coveted battleground states to head to the polls.
President Barack Obama is currently leading his Republican challenger Mitt Romney 51 percent to 44 percent in Iowa, according to a new survey from the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling. A Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times poll of likely voters released Wednesday found Obama holding significantly leads in the more significant battleground states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, all of which are capable of turning the election for one candidate or the other.
A full list of states that offer early voting is available here.
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Other Voting Options
Voters currently living outside of the state they’re registered to vote in can take advantage of the absentee ballot. Some states offer “no-excuse” absentee voting, which allows any registered voter to request a mail-in paper ballot without requiring that the voter state a reason for his or her desire to vote absentee. But a handful of other states only permits individuals to vote absentee under a limited set of circumstances.
To see a full list of which states offer “no excuse” absentee voting, and which do not, click here.
Finally, two states -- Oregon and Washington -- conduct all elections by mail, with a ballot automatically mailed to every registered voter in advance to Election Day. These 17 other states also allow certain elections to be held by mail.