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Both Sides Encourage People to Vote Early this Election

Wisconsin is one of many states where voters can skip long lines on election day and vote early in person at their municipal clerk's office.

It's a matter of convenience, but also a matter of strategy.

Early voting began Monday and lasts through November 2nd at 5 p.m.

"I do think some people do like to avoid the busy elections on election day and they like to get it done ahead of time," said Bill Heideman, Merrill's city clerk.

Heideman says he wouldn't be surprised if 20 percent of city voters are early voters this election. As of late Wednesday morning, they had 240 early and absentee ballots turned in.

In the 2008 election, about 16 percent of Merrill voters voted early.

While local clerks certainly encourage people to vote and vote early if they can, even bigger proponents of early voting are the political parties and their candidates.

At the Victory Center in Wausau, the headquarters for the Republican Party of Marathon County, volunteers are not only energizing people to vote, but to vote for their candidates of choice.

"Early voting is all about our ground game, about our enthusiasm gap, about getting out our republican supporters and making a statement by supporting our candidate early, taking full advantage of the season we've been given," said Evan Nehring, who chairs the party's public relations committee.

Across town at the Democratic Party of Marathon County headquarters, volunteers are also swaying supporters to vote for their candidates now.

"We encourage people to early vote for a couple of reasons," said Jeff Johnson, the party's chair. "Number one it ensures that their vote is going to be counted. Sometimes you have unforeseen circumstances whether work takes you out of town that day or you have a family emergency."

The other reason, he says, is that it frees up volunteers to help get out the vote on election day.

"Up until the polls close we'll have volunteers and folks out there trying to get people to the polls," Johnson said.

Nehring says he's hoping early voting translates to early enthusiasm.

"Obviously if anything comes up on election day, you're covered but beyond that its just a ground swell that can happen earlier on," he said.

Johnson says when more people vote, it tends to favor democratic candidates. More Wisconsinites have voted for democratic candidates for President since 1988.

But Nehring believes the momentum the republican party gained in the 2010 spring elections, and this summer's recalls may trump the 2008 Presidential election.

Both parties agree that this election every vote counts.


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