The number of early votes cast in the 2018 midterm elections exceeded the total number of early votes cast

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Americans cast more ballots ahead of Election Day than they did during the last midterm poll, continuing a trend of relying on early voting despite vocal objections from some Republicans.

As of Saturday, voters had cast more than 39 million votes, more than the number of early votes cast in 2018. United States election plan. This year’s total will increase as election officials still receive ballots by mail and some states allow in-person early voting over the weekend.

Former President Donald Trump and his allies have attacked early voting, in particular Voting Mail Schemes, prompting some Republicans to abandon a practice that has been in place in some states for decades. A countervailing force appears to have offset that resistance — greater opportunities to vote early.

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“We’re moving from election to election on the path to early voting, and that’s because states offer early voting more often or more,” he said. Michael McDonaldA University of Florida political scientist oversees the election program.

Early voting has been on the rise for a long time. In 2014, about 31 percent of votes were cast by mail or at early voting locations, McDonald said. In 2018, it rose to 40 percent. He expects early voting to play a bigger role this year.

The best comparison for this year is other midterm elections like 2014 and 2018. Early voting is higher in presidential years, both in terms of raw numbers and share of the overall vote, McDonald said. The role of early voting is particularly important in 2020, as fears over the coronavirus spur voters to vote by mail in record numbers. That year, Americans cast 101.5 million early votes, more than double what they did in the 2016 presidential election.

Many factors influence changes in voting behavior. After their experience in 2020, more voters are familiar with how to vote early and can stick to the practice. As vaccines become more widely available, others may be more willing to go to the polls on Election Day. Arguments against early voting from Trump and his allies could influence how some voters choose to vote.

Meanwhile, early voting rules are changing in some places. Unlike in 2018, California, Nevada, Vermont, and DC are holding this election entirely by mail, and Michigan and Pennsylvania are now unlikely to vote by mail.

Other states have tightened their rules. Wisconsin Supreme Court this summer Ballot boxes were banned In that state and in the Delaware Supreme Court last month The lower court affirmed the judgment It prevented voting there without assigning any reason.

This year, some Republicans have urged voters to hang on to their mail-in ballots until the last minute, making it difficult to estimate how many early ballots will ultimately be returned. Every election cycle, millions of voters ask for ballots they never returned. in — because they don’t vote or they decide to vote instead.

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For this cycle, nearly 20 million ballots were cast in 19 states that have voter registration by party identification, providing insight into who is voting early. In those states, 43 percent of the vote so far has come from registered Democrats, 34 percent from Republicans, and 23 percent from unaffiliated or third-party voters.

The 19 states include Democratic-dominated states like California, heavily Republican states like Oklahoma, and battleground states like Pennsylvania.

Early voting participation varies by state. In North Carolina, fewer than 2 million early votes were cast, compared to the 2018 tally.

In Georgia this fall, in-person voting began earlier than 2018 levels before more closely matching last midterm. In all, 2.5 million early votes had been cast in person and by mail as of Saturday in Georgia, up from 2.1 million in 2018.

Texans cast 5.5 million early votes, up from 4.9 million in 2018.

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