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Monday, October 15, 2012

Obamas to Vote Early, Hoping Others Do the Same

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. â€" President Obama and his wife, Michelle, announced on Monday that they would both vote early, and Mrs. Obama was photographed holding an absentee ballot for Illinois that she later dropped in the mail. Mr. Obama followed up her announcement by saying that he would vote early, in person, on Oct. 25, the next time he planned to be in Chicago.

By voting early, the Obamas will deprive the news media of a time-honored Election Day photo opportunity: the president and the first lady at the ballot box. But they are throwing their weight behind the Obama campaign's aggressive push for early voting, an increasingly popular process that the campaign believes favors it over the Romney campaign because of its extensive field operation in several of the states that permit early voting.

In a Twitter message put out by the campaign, Mrs. Obama said, “Hey @BarackObama, I just dropped my absentee ballot in the mail â€" I couldn't wait for Election Day! Lo ve you! â€" mo” Moments later, a post from Mr. Obama appeared: “I'm following @MichelleObama's example and voting early, on October 25.” His was signed “bo,” which the campaign says is an indication that Mr. Obama himself sent it, not his campaign machinery.

Mrs. Obama, a few wags on Twitter pointed out, did not say whom she voted for.

In a statement, the Obama campaign said the first couple were voting early “in order to promote the ease, convenience and importance of voting.” Mrs. Obama said early voting was a way to make sure people's vote got counted, in case they got sick or had to work late on Election Day.

Early voting, however, may also disproportionately benefit the president. In a new online poll by Reuters/Ipsos, Mr. Obama has a lead of 59 percent to 31 percent among people who have already voted. Seven percent of the 6,704 people surveyed said they had cast ballots, and the poll's margin of sampling e rror was plus or minus 10 percentage points.

The Romney campaign dismissed the Reuters poll in a memo from Rich Beeson, its political director, saying that only 5 percent of early voting had been completed, and that the poll had a very small sample size, particularly in swing states. Moreover, Mr. Beeson said, Democratic voters tend to be more likely to vote on Election Day than Republicans, so even if Mr. Obama is leading Mr. Romney now, he is only “cannibalizing his turnout on Nov. 6.”

“Governor Romney's early-voting effort has been, and will continue to be, focused on low-propensity voters, which means his Election Day turnout will not be negatively impacted by the early-vote program,” Mr. Beeson said.