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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And I'm Robert Siegel. It's election day in Iowa, or the first of many election days. Iowa is the first swing state on the calendar to let voters cast ballots in- person for the November election. Sarah McCammon of Iowa Public Radio has this story about early voting.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: I'm standing outside the Polk County Election Office, in downtown Des Moines. It's just a little bit after 8:00 right now, and the doors recently opened. And there's already a line well out the door. Judging from buttons and stickers, it's a largely pro-Obama crowd.

LINDSEY SWAN: I'm Lindsey Swan, I'm from Des Moines, Iowa. I'm here because I believe in President Obama and the direction he's taking our country. And I'm very proud to be an American and proud to be able to vote early here in Iowa.

MCCAMMON: Swan is a 51-year-old social worker. As of today, Iowans can vote by mail, or in-person at their local county auditors' offices. Some areas will offer satellite voting at places like churches or grocery stores.

PAT HARPER: I will be voting for President Obama.

DAVE EPPERSON: Obama.

WALLY BLATNICK: I think I may have cast the first vote in Iowa for President Obama.

MCCAMMON: That's Pat Harper of Waterloo, Iowa, Dave Epperson of Council Bluffs and Wally Blatnick of Iowa City - all among the first Iowa voters to cast ballots today. There were Romney supporters too, although they were harder to find. Virginia Sourbeer of Des Moines is a retired state legislative staffer and former teacher. She showed up around lunch time because she won't be able to get to the polls on November 6. Sourbeer says she believes Romney is best suited to fix the nation's economy.

VIRGINIA SOURBEER: No, I just think that his background for one thing and his record in Massachusetts that he dealt with difficult economic times there that he will deal with the issue. Because we've had somebody who will not deal with the issue the last four years.

MCCAMMON: The Obama campaign has been pushing early voting across the country and Democrats have requested the overwhelming majority of absentee ballots in Iowa. But Republicans do have an 18,000-person lead in voter registration.

TOM SZOLD: We tend to start much later than the Democrats, that's just our strategy.

MCCAMMON: Tom Szold is the communications director for the Republican National Committee in Iowa. He says Republican officials are confident their voters will be at the polls on election day. Szold says the Romney campaign began sending out mailings promoting early voting to residents of targeted areas of the state this week.

SZOLD: It's common knowledge that the Democrats are ahead of us in this, but I mean, that's, you know, now that our mailings are going to drop, you're going to start seeing that gap closing very, very quickly.

MCCAMMON: While more than 30 states allow early voting, Iowa is the first battleground state to begin collecting ballots in-person. Recent polls show President Obama gaining some ground here. But both campaigns say they'll be fighting for votes right up to election day. Polk County auditor, Jamie Fitzgerald, says he's hearing from voters who are hearing from the candidates.

JAMIE FITZGERALD: Yeah, I think a lot of folks on the phones - one of the questions we get asked, will the campaigns quit calling me if I vote early?

MCCAMMON: The campaigns can easily find out who's already voted and Fitzgerald says if they learn you're on that list, they'll probably leave you alone. For NPR News, I'm Sarah McCammon in Des Moines.

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