Joe Biden was encouraging the crowd at his rally in Colorado today to vote early since early voting in Colorado goes on until October 31st. Shep cut away from Joe’s giving his website address for information on early voting and said:

Shep: We won’t interrupt him for the meat of his discussion, but Mary Ann Marsh, why is this early voting so important?

Mary Ann: Well it’s everything Shep. You have to assume that all these polls are much closer than they appear and as Major Garrett said in the earlier segment, any vote you can get before election day is a vote in the bank. You can count those. You can go into election day, know exactly how many votes you have and then based on models know exactly how many votes you have to get on election day. The big thing here Shep that you’ve got to keep in mind is, a good field organization is worth three to five points on election day. You can find three to five points on the ground on election day. So if these polls are close then that’s exactly what’s going to determine this race and you have to say, in that respect, Barack Obama should have the advantage.

This particular line piqued my interest:

You can go into election day, know exactly how many votes you have and then based on models know exactly how many votes you have to get on election day.

I was under the impression that early votes were counted at the same time that absentee ballots were counted, on election day.

So I called up the County Clerk’s office and asked just to make sure.

Early votes are held until election day. So are absentee votes. Then the moving company brings all the voting machines to a warehouse for processing. All the votes are processed at that time.

So, I don’t know how Mary Ann Marsh can know how many votes there are for any candidate. The most she can know is how many early voters there were.

Exit polling, notoriously unreliable, is even harder with early voting, too many places, too many days…

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