Whatever the outcome, the 2020 election is already one for the history books, with an astonishing 97.6 million ballots already submitted through in-person early voting and by mail — more than two-thirds of the number of votes cast in the entire 2016 election.
As of Monday afternoon, hours before Election Day, with some states still holding early voting, 35.5 million people had voted in person and 62.1 million had cast ballots by mail, according to the U.S. Elections Project, a nonpartisan website run by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who tracks county-level data.
Those numbers represent a tectonic shift away from one-day voting, the staple of the American electoral system for centuries.
And they make it likely that the total turnout for 2020 will break the record set in 2016, when nearly 139 million people voted.
They also create fresh uncertainty for two presidential campaigns facing the prospect of motivating a smaller, more-volatile reservoir of available voters to tap on Election Day itself.
Democrats, buoyed by polls showing Joseph R. Biden Jr. with small but durable leads in battleground states, have focused on turning out Black and Latino voters, who typically prefer voting in person, to offset an expected Election-Day surge by Trump supporters.
Texas and Hawaii have already surpassed their total 2016 voter turnout, and the battleground states of North Carolina, Georgia and Florida have topped 90 percent of their 2016 turnout.
In the 20 states that report the party registration of early voters, the elections project found that 45 percent of those who have voted early are registered Democrats, 30 percent are Republicans and 24 percent list no party affiliation.
Officials with both the Biden and Trump campaigns have viewed the split between early voters and Election-Day voters as highly partisan, with Democrats in most states making up a clear majority of early voters and Republicans, motivated by President Trump’s effort to undermine the legitimacy of mail-in balloting, waiting to show up to the polls.
The Trump campaign continues to wage an all-fronts fight in court to limit the time states have to count ballots, while Democrats, citing the challenges posed by the pandemic, have pressed for more time and for looser scrutiny of ballot signatures that could invalidate some votes.
On Sunday, Mr. Trump falsely suggested that states like Pennsylvania, which can take days to count mail-in ballots, needed to complete vote counts on Election Day. He vowed to mount a legal challenge to the Pennsylvania vote.
“We’re going to go in the night of, as soon as that election’s over, we’re going in with our lawyers,” the president said. – NY Times.