Record number of ballots cast with weeks to go until Election Day

October 14, 2020

Voters are casting their ballots early at a higher rate than ever before, ahead of the presidential election.

Over 13 million votes have already been cast.

“Early voting is up everywhere in the country. And you look at state after state, the numbers are running about 10 times what they were in 2016,” said Dr. Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida who runs the Elections Project, which tracks early voting nationwide.

Some states, including California, have expanded early and mail-in voting options this election because of the pandemic.

“In addition to that, we’re seeing lots of people that just want to vote early,” said McDonald. “They’re overwhelmingly Democratic. These are numbers that we don’t – have never seen, really, before. Usually the mail ballots tend to break Republican.”

Both mail in ballot requests and returns are shifting largely Democratic.

In Texas and Georgia, both Republican-leaning states that pollsters say could flip Democratic for the first time in decades, long lines have formed at early voting sites with weeks still to go until Election Day.

With millions more ballots expected to come in by mail this year, results could take longer.

“In particular we’ve been concerned about Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Their elections officials are saying it’s going to take two to three days for them to count all their mail ballots,” said McDonald.

He says that voters should keep a close eye on Florida, a battleground state that typically counts ballots quickly. A decisive result there could be a sign of which way the nation is swinging.

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