SIOUX CITY | The Woodbury County Courthouse opened its doors at 8 a.m. Thursday to a line of people ready to cast their vote in the presidential election.

Thursday was the first day for in-person absentee voting in Iowa, and county auditors across the state started running polling stations.

Within two hours, 88 people had passed through the Sioux City courthouse and placed votes.

Although early voting has already begun in South Dakota, Idaho and Vermont, Iowa is the first battleground state to open up the polls, and voters from both parties came out to support their candidates.

Billy and Sarah Oyadare, of Sioux City, brought along their 5-year-old son, Justin, as they filled out ballots.

"He thinks it’s pretty cool, seeing how the voting works," Billy Oyadare said as he carried his son out of the courthouse on his shoulders.

As a registered Democrat, Oyadare said he voted straight down the party line. His early vote was a mix of enthusiasm for the election and a desire to stop the campaign phone calls he’s been receiving for the past few weeks, he said.

Todd Tripp also came out to support the Democratic ticket, wearing an Obama T-shirt and stickers that read “Be the first” and “Iowa for Obama.” This was the first time he placed his ballot early.

"I wanted to make sure my vote is counted. I feel like Obama deserves a second shot," Tripp, of Sioux City, said.

Nick Nava, of Sioux City, took a few minutes from work to head to the courthouse and beat the Election Day crowds.

"I’ve known for about four years who I want to vote for. Debt is the biggest issue we have today and I’m hoping for some real change,” he said.

Pat Gill, Woodbury County auditor and recorder, said early voting is growing more popular each election cycle. This year, more than 50 percent of voters in the county are expected to place their ballot before Nov. 6.

Thursday brought an exceptionally large crowd, including some first-time voters, Gill said He attributed the turnout to aggressive campaigning by both parties.

"I think people are excited to be in the group of the first people to vote in the state of Iowa," Gill said. 

The courthouse voting station will be open 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays and will begin opening on Saturdays as Election Day draws closer. In October, 11 satellite voting stations will open in Sioux City.

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