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In Des Moines, Hillary Clinton urges Iowans to vote early

U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a campaign event about college affordability with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, New Hampshire, United States September 28, 2016. 

REUTERSREUTERS/Brian Snyder

DES MOINES -- Hillary Clinton urged Iowans to go to the polls early at a rally here on Thursday, the first day of in-person early voting in Iowa.

“Are you ready to go to the polls?” Clinton asked the crowd, gathered at a park in the heart of downtown Des Moines. “We have 40 days to win an election that is going to affect the next 40 years of our country and you, every one of you, can make a difference.”

Until Thursday, voters in the Hawkeye State could only request and submit ballots by mail. But, according to an aide, the campaign is prioritizing in-person voting from now until Election Day because it cuts out many of the steps that voting by mail requires. After the rally, volunteers were on hand to direct supporters to a nearby early voting site.

It’s a crucial part of the Clinton campaign’s organizing effort in Iowa, where recent polls have shown Donald Trump in the lead​, and other battlegrounds, including Nevada and North Carolina, where Clinton campaigned earlier this week.

“I believe that we may have a record setting turnout in this election,” she said at a rally in Raleigh on Tuesday. “Some folks who follow this are saying we could have the biggest turnout we’ve ever had.”

Clinton said that, in particular, she would “love to see” young people turn out to vote in big numbers.

“I would love to see that because every election is about the future,” she said. “And honestly, it’s more about the future of young people and children than it’s ever been because of the difference in the approaches and the experiences of me and my opponent.”

While Clinton made a stop in Des Moines -- her second trip back to Iowa since the caucus -- surrogates fanned out across the state to hold early vote events in Waterloo, Sioux City, Ottumwa, Iowa City, Davenport and Council Bluffs. Four in ten voters cast their ballots early in Iowa in 2012, which helped President Barack Obama’s campaign determine the outcome of the race there days before Election Day. 

“There will be a lot of focus on raw numbers, but it’s not just about running up the score,” said a Clinton campaign official. “Our organizing team is laser focused on reaching and turning out to vote our supporters who may have missed elections in the past. Once we turn out those voters, we can narrow our mission and turn out the remaining supporters on Election Day.”

Clinton’s campaign announced on Thursday that she will campaign in Ohio on Monday and “urge Ohioans to register to vote and get ready to vote early.” Early voting starts in Ohio on October 12.