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Forty percent expected to vote early in U.S. presidential election

  • Nearly 40 percent of voters are expected to cast their ballots early in the 2012 U.S. presidential election.

    Polls of those who already voted show President Barack Obama with a comfortable edge over Republican rival Mitt Romney.

    Both candidates have been pushing supporters not just to vote but to do it early, especially in key battleground states.

    To signify the importance that the Democrats place on early voting, Obama became the first sitting president to vote early when he cast his ballot in Chicago on Thursday.

    Early voting formed a large part of the incumbent’s success in the 2008 election. Nearly a quarter of the 133 million people who voted that year had cast their ballots before Election Day.

    According to previous polls, Democratic voters across several crucial battleground states are more likely than Republicans to vote ahead of time.

    Obama leads Romney 54 percent to 39 percent among voters who have already cast their ballots ahead of the November 6 election, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling data compiled in recent weeks.

    The sample size of early voters is 960 people with a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

    Early voting, which started in some states in September, is now underway in nearly all 50 states.