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Election 2012

October 6, 2012

Eager to put lengthy political campaign behind them, Iowans head to early voting

By Bill Turque

The Washington Post

DES MOINES, Iowa — Meet Matt Reisetter, a weary and somewhat teed-off Iowa voter.

A stay-at-home dad in his mid-30s, he has long since unplugged his two land lines to stop the nonstop calls from campaigns reminding him to vote. But that hasn't blocked the three to four daily pieces of political mail.

When Reisetter arrived at the Polk County Election office early one morning last week, it seemed less an exercise of civic responsibility than a bid to finally get the 2012 campaign out of his life. And he didn't want to talk about who he voted for.

"It's like, enough," he said.

Iowans like Reisetter are suffering from what might be described as toxic levels of exposure to the 21st century political campaign. President Barack Obama's organization never really left after 2008. Republicans who competed in last January's precinct caucuses had begun stalking voters here soon after the 2010 midterm elections.

Iowa's status as a 2012 battleground state has meant a daily bombardment of television and radio ads, door knocks, candidate visits and celebrity events designed to entice laggards — or "highly valuable sporadic voters," as one Obama strategist calls them — to register. Jon Bon Jovi, for example, played concerts in Iowa City and Des Moines on Friday for the Obama campaign.

The state's 40-day early voting period began Sept. 27, and as of Thursday, 94,135 Iowans had cast their ballots. That amounts to roughly 6 percent of the electorate and more early voters so far than in all 49 other states and District of Columbia combined. Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald, who oversees voting, said Reisetter's complaint is familiar.

"I think you're seeing a lot of people here who just want to get their names off of the lists," said Fitzgerald, referring to the lists of voters who have ordered absentee ballots but who haven't mailed or walked them in.

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