US early voting total surpasses 2016 election

2020 Election

CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — This year’s presidential election is just over one week away, and the number of people who have already cast ballots has surpassed early voting tallies in 2016.

As of Monday, more than 60 million people have submitted their votes so far, according to the University of Florida’s U.S. Elections Project. The total of in-person and mail ballots cast in the 2016 election was 58 million.

An analyst for the data project says that some states are on pace to exceed their 2016 early voting totals this week.

Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Montana, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington are all at 60% or above for their total 2016 turnout.

Texas is at 80%, followed by Montana at 70% and then North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia all around 65%.

According to the U.S. Elections Project, Washington offers key insights to what’s happening in the 2020 election.

“The state ran all-mail elections in 2016 and 2020 under the same rules. The only change is a change in voters’ behavior,” the project’s analysis stated. “So far, the state reports 2,018,495 mail ballots have been returned. At this same number of days prior to the election in 2016, 763,934 ballots were returned. Washington’s mail ballot return rates are nearly three times what they were in 2016.”

People queue to vote early at a polling station in The Bronx, New York City, U.S., October 25, 2020. (REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

So far, the project noted that voter behavior is helping spread out the workload of election officials during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Not only are people voting, but they are voting over a longer period of time,” the project’s analysis said.

Democrats are taking the lead in the initial balloting, accounting for more than 49% of those who have voted so far, according to the project’s latest count. The data only includes 19 states’ party registration reporting.

Republicans account for nearly 28% of the total vote. More than 22% don’t have any party affiliation listed.

“This is a glass half-full, glass half-empty situation,” said John Couvillon, a Republican pollster who tracks early voting closely, told the Associated Press.

“They’re showing up more,” he added, but “Republicans need to rapidly narrow that gap.”

Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who specializes in U.S. elections, warned of other factors that could influence voting tallies, including Tropical Storm Zeta.

Zeta is expected to strengthen into a hurricane Monday, and McDonald said the storm could disrupt in-person early voting in Republican areas of Florida’s panhandle later this week.

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