A ‘smooth’ day in Iowa, where almost half the electorate voted early

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The polls opened  at 7 a.m. local time in Iowa this morning. The only things missing were the long lines of voters.

Approximately 40% of likely voters in the Hawkeye State cast their ballots early. Chad Olsen, a spokesman for Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz, reported that at least 670,000 people voted early as of Monday night, with absentee ballots still arriving.

“It pretty much shattered the old record of 545,000,” said Olson, comparing initial turnout this cycle to 2008. That’s nearly a 25% increase in early voters. He said roughly 1.5 million Iowans voted in the past two elections.

Polling places remained busy in the swing state, where six Electoral College votes are up for grabs in the presidential election. The heavy push by campaigns, primarily the Democratic side, to take advantage of early voting has been credited with decreasing the influx of crowds and increasing overall participation.

“Turnout is great. Iowa had done an outstanding job in early voting, and I am confident President Obama will win Iowa,” Danny Homan, President of AFSCME Iowa Council 61, told msnbc.com on Tuesday. “The folks I’m talking to are saying it’s going smooth and people are just coming in and voting – not too many problems.”

The state offered a 40-day window prior to the election to vote early. The campaigns spent $74 million on ads in Iowa alone; after  months of rallies with candidates, in-your-face TV ads and knocks on their door, Iowans were more than ready to weigh in.

For those residents who didn’t cast early, polls in Iowa close at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT.

A 'smooth' day in Iowa, where almost half the electorate voted early