With a deadly pandemic raging alongside a particularly contentious election, voter turnout numbers for all types of early voting are shattering records across the United States.
Despite a rapidly accelerating pandemic, misinformation spread by the Trump administration, and ongoing legal challenges in state courts, voters across the United States are more determined than ever to vote in the 2020 general election.
Election Day is still more than three weeks away, but the country has already broken records: 6.6 million people have cast their ballots for the presidential face-off between Republican incumbent Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
According to the United States Election Project, early voting records show that those numbers are more than 10 times the number of ballots cast by this time during the 2016 presidential election. What were the totals then? Only 429,337 people had cast their ballots early by this point in October.
The exponential growth in voter turnout is primarily attributed to expanded voting options—including early and mail-in voting—during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve never seen this many people voting so far ahead of an election,” Michael McDonald, who administered the project, told Reuters.
McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida, also said the increased turnout could also be linked to voter enthusiasm, whether from the president’s most zealous supporters or those who fervently wish to see him ousted from the White House.
He also predicts that about 65% percent of eligible voters will turn out for the 2020 election. This comes out to approximately 150 million people—the highest number of voters to cast ballots in the US since 1908. The 2016 election between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and then-Republican nominee Donald Trump saw 138 million people vote—or just 58.1% of eligible voters.
The Elections Project data discovered that a significant number of early votes were sent in from registered Democrats—about 1.4 million ballots. In comparison, Republicans cast 633,742 ballots. On a state-by-state level, Florida has seen nearly 1.2 million ballots cast, while over 800,000 ballots have been returned in both Michigan and Virginia already.
Which States Allow Early Voting?
It is still not too late to cast your ballots ahead of Election Day. Here are some states that are opening early voting in the next few weeks (keep in mind that the end of early voting periods vary by state and don’t always run through Election Day):
October 12: Georgia
October 13: Kentucky and Texas
October 14: Tennessee, Kansas (dates vary by county), and Rhode Island (only offers “in-person” absentee voting in their election offices)
October 15: North Carolina
October 16: Louisiana
October 17: Massachusetts and Nevada
October 19: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, North Dakota (dates vary by county), and Idaho (only offers in-person absentee voting—dates vary)
October 20: Utah and Wisconsin
October 21: West Virginia
October 24: New York and Florida (only offers “in-person” absentee voting in their election offices)
October 26: Maryland
October 27: Washington, DC
You can find more information about early voting in your state here.
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