Finish up your Obama- or Romney-lantern, then get out and vote in October.

As the debates heat up, people are getting more and more energized by their candidate of choice, or less enthused about the potential competition. But it doesn't end with sitting and listening to the debates, posting on Facebook and arguing with your friends over who's secretly a socialist or who's turning the calendar back to '50s policy. You can vote. It's one of the prinicples our country was founded on. You can wait till Nov. 6. Or, even better, you can vote before that, and you are encouraged to. 

Early voting is now open in Utah.

With less than two weeks until the polls close, there's no reason to wait. Utah permits early voting in person or absentee by mail. To find your voting location and for further details on early or absentee voting, visit

Mark Thomas from the Lt. Governor's office, took a moment to answer some questions. 

Has voting early has increased this year?

"We are not even half way through early voting this year, so we won't know until it's all over, but currently we have a steady flow of folks early voting and submitting their by-mail ballots that we are projecting an increase this election."

What is the Lt. Governor's office doing to get the word out?

"Our office did a media outreach campaign that included TV, radio, Internet, and newspaper to guide users to the website which contains information on polling locations, early voting locations, sample ballots, and much more."

What are some of the benefits are for the voter for voting early?

"It offers options for voters to go and vote at their convenience and not limit it to just one day."

How does the state benefit from voting early?

"It helps reduce the lines voters could face on election day. Furthermore, it saves taxpayers money by not having to purchase as many voting machines since voting is spread out over a two week period. The state would have to purchased millions of dollars more of voting machines if we were to have voting on just one day."

Does the voter miss out on important issues with voting early?

"There is always the possibility of something happening that could influence a voter's decision in the days leading up to the election. If they already voted, the voter would not be able to retract that vote, but most early voters understand the risk and have made their mind up already, and there is not much more information they could received that would change their minds. Political campaigns have had to adjust their strategies to account for 40–50% of voters voting before election day, so the "October surprise" are not as effective as perhaps they once were."

Does voting early effect the outcome of the November polls?

"Our research indicates that most folks who vote early were going to vote on election day anyway, so the effect is minimal in that regard. However, as campaigns try different strategies to adjust to popularity of early voting and by-mail voting, we are seeing campaigns really starting to focus on getting those folks who likely would not vote out to vote early."