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Who are these early voters?

While the candidates for president continue to punch and counter-punch through the remaining days of the campaign hoping to gain new converts, many of the voters have moved on to other things. They've already voted. In fact, researchers estimate that 30 percent of the voters will have cast their ballots before Election Day.

It's another great tradition trampled in the rush through life. Once upon a time, voting made Election Day a great celebration of democracy, shared by friends and neighbors jostling at the polls, exchanging pleasantries and feeling empowered in the great American experiment.

We can only speculate about the demographics of those folks who vote early and avoid sharing the camaraderie of one great day of civic togetherness.

First, there are the narrow-minded ideologues that wouldn't change their votes even if their favorite candidate was exposed as a pedophile who made his fortune selling drugs to the kids at Sunny Bright Kindergarten. They might as well vote early -- a new thought hasn't entered their heads since the first primary.

Then there are the hypochondriacs who are convinced they will not live until Election Day. Knowing that all absentee ballots will be counted whether cast by the dead or the living, they want to elect the candidate who will take care of the kids after they die.

Next are the couch potatoes who can't break away from the new season of repackaged tripe on television. So they put their absentee ballot application in the door mail slot, get the ballot back in the mail slot and send it back through the mail slot, all without missing a single rerun of Judge Judy.

Then there are the poor women whose husbands insist that they vote together so he can be sure that she votes "right" because he heard she voted for the Libertarians in 1984. There'll be no more of that around this house.

Fifth, there are those folks in the nursing homes who will vote early just so they can ride the Good Sam bus to the county auditor's office. For them, it's an extra biennial outing. And when they get back, they will struggle to recall the names of the candidates for whom they cast their ballots.

Sixth are the voters who don't want to be seen at the polls. They know that no matter who wins, the country is going to the dogs and will end up in ruin. They don't want to share the blame.

So as the campaign winds down, more and more folks will be casting ballots and the candidates will be talking to fewer and fewer potential voters. By Election Day, they will be talking only to themselves.

(Lloyd Omdahl, of Grand Forks, is a former lieutenant governor, state tax commissioner and state budget director)

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