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Will We See Record Election Turnout?

Americans are rushing to cast ballots ahead of the November 3 election at an unprecedented pace, according to early voting numbers. This indicates a possible record turnout for the showdown between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

With four weeks to go before Election Day, more than 4 million Americans have already voted. That’s more than 50 times the 75,000 at this time in 2016, according to the United States Elections Project.

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What’s causing these record numbers?

The increase can be attributed to the expansion of early and mail-in voting in many states as a safe way to cast a ballot during the coronavirus pandemic. It is also due to an eagerness to weigh in on the political future of Trump, said Michael McDonald of the University of Florida, who administers the project. “We’ve never seen this many people voting so far ahead of an election,” McDonald said. “People cast their ballots when they make up their minds, and we know that many people made up their minds long ago and already have a judgment about Trump.”

The early surge has led McDonald to predict a record turnout of about 150 million, representing 65% of eligible voters. This is the highest rate since 1908.

Biden leads Trump in national opinion polls, although surveys in crucial battleground states indicate a tighter race. The numbers reported so far come from 31 states, McDonald said. They will grow rapidly as more states begin early in-person voting and report absentee vote by mail totals in the next few weeks. All but about half a dozen states allow some level of early in-person voting.

The percentage of voters who cast their ballot at a voting machine on Election Day was already steadily declining before this year, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

The total number of early or vote by mail ballots more than doubled from nearly 25 million in 2004 to 57 million in 2016, it said. This is an increase from one in five of all ballots cast to two in five of all ballots cast.

Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting

Trump has railed against mail-in voting, making unfounded accusations that it leads to fraud. Experts have said such fraud is rare. Those attacks by the president have shown signs of depressing Republican interest in voting by mail. Democrats have more than doubled the number of returned vote by mail ballots by Republicans in seven states that report voter registration data by party, according to the Elections Project.

In the crucial battleground state of Florida, Democrats have requested more than 2.4 million mail-in ballots and returned 282,000. Republicans have asked for nearly 1.7 million and returned more than 145,000.

A national Reuters/Ipsos poll taken last week found 5% of Democrats nationwide said they had already voted. Only 2% of Republicans said the same. About 58% of Democrats planned to vote early, compared to 40% of Republicans.

McDonald said early voting typically starts strong, then drops before surging just ahead of the election. But in some states, rates of participation have already skyrocketed a month out.

In South Dakota, early voting this year already represents nearly 23% of the total turnout in 2016. It is nearly 17% of total 2016 turnout in Virginia and nearly 15% of total 2016 turnout in the battleground state of Wisconsin.

“That’s just nuts,” McDonald said. “Every piece of data suggests very high turnout for this election. I think that’s just a given.”

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8 comments

  1. Say no to liberal Socialists!

  2. No to socialists!!

  3. Oregon has had mail-in voting since the late 90’s. Prior to that, we had 20 R governors and 16 D. Since then, when ever a R governor candidate is ahead on election night, they “find” ballots in a janitor’s closet, trunk of a car, etc. that miraculously puts the D over the top by a narrow margin. Now, convince us that there is no fraud…

  4. In stead if saying no to socialism, when confronted by some one going that way talk to them. Explain or mention a good reason why they should think about who they are voting for. This is what i would say, are you happy with the way things are today? Think about how this will be 10X worse. We could go into a depression and end up with a one party government.

  5. The elections boards or the Governors who ever is in charge shouldn’t be sending out ballets to the general population. Request for absentee ballets are the best way to vote by mail. This way they can eliminate people who have moved or died.

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