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Organizers Impressed By Early Voter Turnout In Grinnell

More than 500 people voted early in a single day at a small Iowa college campus. The turnout at the Grinnell College precinct in Poweshiek County would equate to almost one third of the student body. Politicos say it’s a sign that younger voters are more engaged this election cycle.

Natalie Wodniak is an organizer in the area with the left-leaning group NextGen Iowa.

"This is an incredible turnout for one day of early voting," Wodniak said. "Seeing this in early vote almost, almost a month before the Election Day is really incredible to see that students are ready to get out there. They know who they’re voting for and they’re ready to see big changes this year.”

All the voters casting ballots at the college's early voting site were not necessarily students. But Wodniak is still optimistic that voter engagement efforts are appealing to young Iowans.

"I had a student come up to me and he showed me his 'I voted' sticker and said 'Thanks for registering me'," she said. "That face-to-face impact with young people is really going to push them to get out to vote."

Still, historically young voters have largely skipped midterms. During the 2014 election, Iowa voters 65 and over were roughly three times as likely to vote as those ages 18 to 24.  Thirty-four percent of the youngest Republican voters turned out, compared to 24 percent of the youngest Democratic voters. 

Younger voters tend to side with the Democratic Party and left-leaning groups remain hopeful they'll help boost turnout in an off-year. But recent polling on voter enthusiasm is mixed, with one survey showing Democratic support among millenials may be eroding

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter