• AMPlus Issue7

US Elections 2020: Early voting records smashed

Keyuri Desai

18th October 2020

With less than two weeks left until 'election day', many states in the US have seen a historical record in early voting despite the ongoing pandemic. As reported by BBC, more than 22m Americans had already voted by Friday the 16th either in person or by mail. Meanwhile, in the 2016 presidential race, only 6m votes were cast.

Voters queuing for early voting earlier this month (Source: BBC)

As reported by Danny Doughtery and Chad Day for the Wall Street Journal, Virginia, one of the first states in the country to commence early in-person voting sites, has topped the 2016 levels for both advanced voting categories in the first week it reported numbers. On the other hand, in Ohio, more than 2.3m postal ballots were requested, almost double than in 2016.

Reports have indicated that registered Democrats have so far cast almost double the votes than the registered Republicans. To date, more than 57 lakh registered Democrat voters have returned their ballots till Friday, as opposed to the 24 lakh Republicans, as reported by Republic World. The early advantage to Democrats, however, does not claim victory for them in any way. Republicans who believe that early postal voting is vulnerable to fraud have contended that even though Democrats might win the initial vote, they will show up in large numbers to booths on 'election day'.

A professor at the University of Florida, Michael McDonald, who also runs the elections project, highlighted three main factors for this significant rise in early voters' numbers. The ongoing pandemic, higher voter interest, and changed state laws could be the main contributors for the same. Virginia, for the first time, has adopted full-fledged in-person early voting in this election campaign.

Among the early voting Democrats, noticeably large numbers of women and American people of colour have cast their votes. The BBC reported that some people are motivated to vote by their hate for Donald Trump, while others were encouraged by the BLM protests that occurred countrywide throughout the summer. There has also been a remarkable rise in the number of young people casting their votes in the 2020 elections, probably the highest since the 2008 election of Barack Obama.

(Sources: BBC, The Wall Street Journal, Republic World)

Edited by: Ritish

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