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      Why is voting absentee becoming more popular?

      The big decisions facing voters this year have already been made by Northern Michigan University student Jordan Johnson. The Iron River resident cast his absentee ballot over a week ago.

      "I don't really have the chance to go home with all of the classes I have, and it's just a lot more convenient to have a chance to look at the ballot and think about it a little longer," said Johnson.

      Marquette resident Jerry Nobert won't be waiting in line at the polls on Tuesday either.

      "Because I'm over 60, I'm eligible to cast an absentee ballot," said Nobert. "You don't have to stand in line, you don't have to go out if the weather is bad."

      In the City of Marquette, 1,870 absentee ballots were issued in 2008, the last presidential election. As of Thursday morning, 2,120 had been issued. The clerk's office estimated that about 20 percent of city ballots cast in this year's election will be through the absent voter process.

      In Chocolay Township, 948 absentee ballots were requested in 2008, with 1,053 going out this year as of Wednesday. Local clerks said an aging population is one reason for the jump.

      "From the Secretary of State's office, there's been some movement toward helping people use the absent voter process," said Marquette City Clerk, David Bleau.

      Marquette County Clerk, Peter Dishnow, added, "I believe the parties themselves have been kind of pushing an absent voter or early voting process."

      The length and complexity of Michigan's ballot is also making absent voting more popular.

      "You can read the proposals over, study the issues, and take your time," Nobert said.

      "It is a huge ballot," Dishnow commented.

      It remains to be seen what affect the large number of absent voters will have on Tuesday's turnout.

      "That's the million dollar question," Dishnow said.

      "Traditionally, a high absent voter turnout or request level also translated into a very high turnout at the polls," Bleau said.

      The polls are a place Nobert and Johnson won't be on Tuesday, after voting absentee.

      "It's definitely more convenient," Nobert said.

      It was a lot more simple than I thought it would be," Johnson added.

      If you aren't able to make it to the polls on Tuesday and still want to vote, there is one last opportunity. State law requires city and township offices to have ballots available through 4 p.m. Monday, but they must be filled out at the clerk's office.