Technically, today is sort of election day in Ohio, Vermont, Georgia, South Dakota, and Iowa, given that voters can start voting in person for the midterm elections.

Vote by mail ballots are being mailed out today in Ohio, and this is the first day individuals can vote early in person. There is also one week left in which you can register to vote in Ohio. The result is a special, one-week window in which voters can both register and cast their ballots at the same time at their local county board of elections. Not surprisingly, both major parties and other political organizations are holding rallies today to get their supporters to vote early. From Cincinnati.com:

Today is the day when boards of elections mail out the thousands of absentee ballots voters have asked for in written requests; and the first day when voters can show up in person at county boards of election to cast ballots in the Nov. 2 election.

Both sides saw what happened in Ohio two years ago, when the Obama-Biden campaign pushed voters out of their homes and to the polls by the tens of thousands well before the November election, thus locking up voters who otherwise might change their minds.

The mind-set of both parties has changed – the object now is to get as many early votes in hand as possible.

What is happening today in Ohio mirrors what is happening all over the country. Over the past several years, states have increasingly given voters options to vote early or by mail. As a result, more and more voters have started casting their ballots days and weeks before the first Tuesday in November. In Ohio, roughly 30% of votes cast in 2008 were vote-by-mail or early in person voting.

The result is that, in many states, we don’t so much have an election day as an election month. There will be at last some Americans filling out their ballots everyday from now until November 2nd–something politicians need to keep in mind.

This means that, in the “final weeks” of the election, there is less potential for strong shifts in polling based on new developments since many of the votes will already have been cast. With voting officially underway, the most recent Gallup poll shows the generic congressional ballot tied at 46.

Personally, I encourage everyone when possible to vote early or by mail. It is easy to be caught up in some unforeseen problem on election day that prevents you from getting to your polling location. Voting early is the best way to make sure you cast your ballot.