In-person early voting began in Iowa yesterday with a lot of fanfare. State and county officials should have reports out soon on the party-registration numbers for early voters. Anecdotally, the first wave was heavily Democratic. And the Iowa Secretary of State’s office is reporting that requests for absentee ballots are so far running heavily Democratic as well (119,000 to 24,000).
It’s important to keep in mind that different states have different practices for reporting the nature of early voting, and in particular, it’s hard to get a handle on voter composition in states with no party registration. On the other hand, most southern states are in part or in whole subject to Voting Rights Act requirements to keep up with racial data on voting, so it will be possible to obtain some decent guesstimates of early voting in that region. With at least a third of all votes likely to be cast before Election Day nationally (and much higher percentages in some states), it’s worth paying attention to such information as is out there.