Over a Week Before Election, Early Voting Surpasses 2016 Level

People wait in line to vote early in Miami Beach, Fla., last week. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

(CN) — More Americans have already voted eight days before Election Day than all of those who cast ballots early four years ago.  

According to the U.S. Elections Project, 62 million people have voted early in person or via absentee ballot as of Monday, illustrating how energized the electorate is this year despite early predictions of low turnout due to the coronavirus pandemic and an incumbent president.

Nationally, Americans have already cast 44% of the total votes counted in the last presidential election, according to the website maintained by Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida.

In battleground states such as Florida and Nevada, the numbers are even starker: Floridians have cast almost 63% of the total votes counted in 2016 with another six days of early voting left in the Sunshine State. In Nevada, the number is near 60%.

Across Texas, the second most populous state in the country that typically gives the Republican nominee all of its 38 electoral votes, more than 80% of the total votes from 2016 have already been cast.

Turnout for presidential elections over the last 10 years hovers around 60% of all registered voters.

“The fact that people are voting early doesn’t surprise me at all,” Ann Crigler, a professor of political science at the University of Southern California, said in an interview. “One is the nature of who the president is. And these are turbulent times people feel that they are living in. They have been told by many people on both sides of the aisle that this is an existential election.”

Not all states report party registration with their early voting totals, but among such data collected by the U.S. Elections Project from 19 states, 13.5 million Democrats have voted early versus 7.7 million Republicans. Another 6.1 million Americans with no party affiliation also mailed in ballots or voted in person early.

In past presidential elections, Democrats usually have a lead in mail-in ballots with Republicans utilizing early voting sites at a higher rate.

Crigler said voter turnout is up generally across many demographics but more younger voters are casting ballots early compared to past elections.

“The easier it is to vote, for people who are first time voters, they are more likely to do it,” she said, pointing to get-out-the-vote campaigns on social media and even video games.

Across all demographics, Crigler said, the distrust across partisan lines means people are more apt to ensure their vote counts.

“There’s a lot of misinformation campaigns going on with the attempt to suppress voter turnout,” she said. “People are saying, ‘You know what? I’m going to try my hardest to go out and vote because I think this is too important.’”

Early voting in most states continues this week. The election is Nov. 3.

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