Early voting starts in Ohio

A sign directs people where to vote during early voting at the Wood County Court House October 2, 2012 in Bowling Green, Ohio. Early voting began October 2 in the battleground state of Ohio, five weeks before election day on November 6. J.D. Pooley/Getty Images

Ohio
A sign directs people where to vote during early voting at the Wood County Court House October 2, 2012 in Bowling Green, Ohio. Early voting began October 2 in the battleground state of Ohio, five weeks before election day on November 6.
J.D. Pooley/Getty Images

Election Day is five weeks away, but in-person early voting begins today in Ohio, a key battleground state in the presidential election.

In 2008, nearly 30 percent of Ohio voters cast their ballots before Election Day. CBS News e

expects early voters to make up the same portion of the Ohio electorate this year. (See a graphic that reviews early voting and its impact .)

While Ohio is still a battleground state, CBS News now considers it a blue-leaning state because of the consistent edge President Obama has had there, not just in Ohio overall but also with key groups that could swing the election. The latest Quinnipiac/CBS News/New York Times poll shows Mr. Obama with a 10-point lead over Mitt Romney in Ohio.

Both campaigns are making explicit efforts this week to turn out early voters. Democrats are holding "Sleep Out the Vote" events at which Obama supporters camped out overnight ahead of in-person early voting, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Republicans, meanwhile, planned a 7:30 a.m. early voting rally at a Romney campaign office. The Romney campaign is also launching a "Commit to Mitt Early Vote Express" statewide bus tour.

Currently, 34 states plus the District of Columbia offer early voting. This year, the CBS News polling unit predicts at least one third of ballots -- or around 44 million -- will be cast before Election Day, though that figure could reach as high as 40 percent.

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