Washington: Many Americans are voting early in the 2020 presidential election amid concerns regarding the coronavirus pandemic and doubts over U.S. Postal Service delivering mail-in ballots in time.
The 5.1 million total ballots cast as of Wednesday already suggests a record turnout for this year’s race compared to the 75,000 ballots that were cast at this time in 2016, according to data from the US Elections Project.
“Big topline numbers were over 5 million already, and that’s unprecedented in a modern election in the United States,” Elections Project founder and University of Florida political science professor Michael McDonald wrote on the project website.
He expects “around 150 million people” to vote in this year’s election, the “highest turnout since 1908 of those eligible to vote.”
That number of early ballots cast so far represents 3.7% of the total national voter turnout in 2016. Some states, however, have recorded a larger percentage of early voters.
In South Dakota, 86,386 ballots have been cast as of Wednesday, or 22.8% of the state’s total voter turnout in 2016. In swing state Wisconsin, 545,349 people have voted, or 18.3% of the state’s total 2016 turnout. Virginia has recorded 769,708 ballots cast, representing 17.9% of its total 2016 turnout.
Florida has seen the largest turnout by far with nearly 950,000 ballots cast so far.
Swing state Michigan and battleground state Minnesota have also recorded hundreds of thousands of ballots—Minnesota with more than 336,000 and Michigan with nearly 524,000.
McDonald said he “expected some things to be different since states changed their laws” to accommodate voters amid the pandemic. McDonald added that “70 million mail-in ballots [are] expected to go out to voters” ahead of Nov. 3.
“People did not have to take advantage of this,” he said of mail-in ballots and early voting. But many people already have.