Energized Electorate: A Record-Setting 100 Million Ballots Were Cast Before Election Day


TOPLINE

By the end of early voting on Monday night, elections officials in the United States had received 100,200,000 ballots, a record-setting amount representing more than 70% of the total number of votes cast in the entire 2016 presidential election, leading many experts to predict that an energized electorate will set an all-time record for total ballots cast in 2020.

KEY FACTS

According to CNN, six states (Texas, Hawaii, Nevada, Washington, Arizona and Montana) surpassed their total 2016 voter turnout prior to Tuesday.

At least seven additional states (North Carolina, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee) have surpassed 90% of their 2016 turnout.

The total number of votes cast is projected to range from 142 million to 150 million (62%–65% of eligible voters), according to data scientist Andrew Therriault. 

Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com forecasted last week that the total election turnout would be around 154 million, with an 80th-percentile range between 144 million and 165 million.

KEY BACKGROUND:

In 2016, approximately 138 million Americans voted (the highest total to date), with 58.8 million of those votes cast before Election Day.

This year, many states have expanded in-person early voting and mail-in ballots due to safety concerns associated with the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 231,000 Americans. The early voting returns in many areas, including several swing states, overwhelmingly favor Democratic candidates.

As of Tuesday morning, among those states that provide party registration data, registered Democrats had returned nearly 22 million ballots, while Republicans had returned fewer than 15 million. Another 11.6 million returned ballots list no party affiliation. According to the U.S. Elections Project, 35.7 million people voted early in person, and 64 million cast early ballots by mail. 

CRUCIAL QUOTE: 

“I’m going to vote like my life depends on it,” said Marilyn Crowder, a 60-year-old Philadelphia resident.

BIG NUMBER:

82.6%. That was the record-setting eligible voter turnout rate in the 1876 presidential election when Rutherford Hayes defeated Samuel Tilden. When Abraham Lincoln won in 1860, 81.8% of eligible citizens cast a vote.

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