Politics The many ways we know 2020 will be a banner year for voting
'Staggering numbers': Early voting is breaking records in 2020, fueled by a big mail-ballot lead for Democrats
More than 5 million people have already voted early in the presidential election. Democrats have taken a commanding lead in returning mail ballots.In the 2016 election, about 75,000 people had voted early one month from the election, across significantly fewer states that started early voting and reported their numbers, according to the United States Elections Project.
Ahead of this year’s presidential election, several states including battlegrounds like, , and are approaching or passing voter registration records. But don’t break out the champagne to celebrate democracy just yet. Voter registration totals are not a very good or meaningful indicator of how many people will actually vote. There are, however, a number of other indicators that suggest 2020 will be a banner year for voter turnout.
The 19th Explains: Everything you need to know about voting and Election Day 2020
Experts and state officials say to prepare for the reality that the country may not know who won the presidency on Election Day — or for several days (or weeks) after.Long lines due to expected record voter turnout amid a global pandemic. Ongoing concerns about online misinformation. Hundreds of lawsuits over voting. Poll workers facing changing election rules. An incumbent president who won’t guarantee a peaceful transfer of power.
As the country continues to grapple with the, this election season . The ways in which people are voting, for instance, are far from typical. Some 80 million Americans , and already a record 22 million have voted early. And while the battle between Donald Trump and Joe Biden is attracting the most attention, state and local elections are seeing record levels of fundraising. An influx of new voters would surely mix things up even more.
Still, the voter registration numbers we’re seeing now are more complicated than they look. In the United States, you generally have to register before you vote. And unless you sign up to vote elsewhere or the state is notified of your death or imprisonment, you generally stay registered. So while a state’s voter registration numbers include people who have registered for the first time — young people and first-time voters — those figures can, for a limited time, also include people who have moved and aren’t going to vote in that state.
Georgia officials dispute voter suppression claims spurred by long lines
After day two of advance voting, more than 10% of Georgia's electorate has voted and officials are disputing claims of voter suppression, spurred by hours-long lines. "Georgia voters are excited and setting records every hour -- and this is all during a pandemic, lest we forget... we will have a successful election, keeping all of our voting options accessible in all parts of Georgia, regardless of zip code," Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said during a press conference Wednesday. "Some precincts are more favored than others by voters and they just have longer lines... (but) everyone will have the opportunity to vote.
The intention of not immediately culling voters, specified in the, is to give people a window of time before they’re removed from the rolls without direct confirmation in order to avoid mistakenly disenfranchising voters. Some states are more aggressive than others in removing voters, so their voter registration totals may be more or less reflective of the voting populace.
“Let’s say you have two states of the same size with a million new voters registered in each, and 500,000 have moved away or died,” Center for Election Innovation & Research founder David Becker explained to Recode. “If state A has diligently cleaned the list, they’d show a net 500,000 increase in voter registration, while state B might show a net million.”
Kevin Morris, a voting rights researcher at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice, put it another way: “You can’t compare one state to another because different states have different removal practices.”
Georgia's pandemic primary was a disaster. Experts fear the state is still vulnerable to a repeat.
The long lines and absentee ballot snags that plagued Georgia's June primary were just the latest problems in a state that has become a ground-zero for voting issues. While changes were made in its aftermath, some fear the state remains unprepared.It was not what she had planned.
Instead, these voting experts suggest looking at new voter registrations, rather than total voter registrations, to get an idea of how many people might turn out to vote. Only some states, however, report this information incrementally, and it’s often lagging. Thanks to the pandemic keeping people away from the DMV and other voter registration places,, though the number rebounded this summer
It remains to be seen how much new voter registration grew closer to the election, when new voter registration tends to spike, but in many ways that metric no longer matters. Here are some other reasons to believe that there will be record voter turnout in this election.
Early voting turnout
Election Day is still nearly three weeks away, but 16 percent of those who voted in the 2016 election have already done so this year, according to the, an effort by election expert and University of Florida professor Michael McDonald to make available timely election data. In some states, early voting turnout is even higher: 39 percent in Vermont, 30 percent in Virginia, 27 percent in Texas.
California ballot drop box set ablaze in possible arson, damaging up to 100 ballots
It remains unclear how many ballots were affected but Baldwin Park Mayor Manuel Lozano said that there were around 100 in the box that were damaged. A video shared by Baldwin Park resident George Silva shows firefighters sawing through. Once the drop box was unsealed, with smoke coming out, firefighters removed dozens of ballots. Posted by George Silva on Sunday, October 18, 2020 Per The Guardian, the fire department spent around two hours handling the incident. The last pickup for that particular box, per a statement from the County Registar’s Office, was Saturday morning.
High early voting turnout was.
This early voting turnout has shattered records. As of last Sunday, early voting numbers were. At this rate, for the first time ever, the majority of voters might cast their ballots before Election Day.
“There’s no analog in American history to compare this to,” Becker said. “This is history.”
Of the states where partisan data is already available, Election Project found that, so far, early votes were twice as likely to be cast by Democrats than Republicans.
Voter enthusiasm is high
A number of polls have shown that voters think this election is more important than ever, meaning they’re more likely to actually vote.
“In spite of numerous challenges facing voters — foreign interference, divisive partisanship, fear of the pandemic — voters are incredibly motivated to show their enthusiasm in this election,” Becker said.
This summer, theasked registered voters how much the presidential election “really matters,” and this year a whopping 83 percent said it does — a higher percentage than Pew has recorded in 20 years of collecting data. Similarly, a record 86 percent of registered voters said Trump and Biden have different positions on the issues, suggesting voters perceive a meaningful difference between the candidates.
Pennsylvania’s New Vote-by-Mail Law Expands Access for Everyone Except the Poor
by Jonathan Lai, Samantha Melamed and Michaelle Bond, The Philadelphia Inquirer This article is co-published with The Philadelphia Inquirer. Sign up here to get the next investigation. The story is part of the Electionland project, of which the Inquirer is a partner. Have you encountered problems voting? Tell us your story. Rem Em emigrated from Cambodia in 2002 to help take care of a grandchild with leukemia. Twelve years later, she became a U.S. citizen. It was one of the proudest moments of her life. Ever since, she’s made sure to vote, even though the native Khmer speaker isn’t fluent in English.
Americans are also simply saying they’re more enthusiastic about this election than usual,. Some 67 percent of Americans said they are more enthusiastic than usual about voting, tying as the highest rate measured in previous elections.
Fewer undecided voters than the last election
People’s heightened partisanship might also be an indicator of high voter turnout.
The share of undecided voters is about half what it was during the 2016 presidential election, according to a variety of polls, including ones from, , and . This is another signal that turnout will be higher this year. People who know who they want to vote for are less likely to sit out an election, according to Morris at the Brennan Center.
“There are low rates of undecided voters, who are less likely to vote,” Morris said. “Far more people know who they prefer than normal.”
But even if those undecided voters do vote, it seems they’re just as likely to vote for Trump as Biden,. So the undecideds might not affect the outcome of the presidential election much. Nevertheless, 2020 races are not only at the national level but state and local as well. And just because more people are likely to vote doesn’t mean we’ll know for sure how they’ll vote.
As Becker put it, “It’s highly likely those new voters will be more representative of the electorate in that state than the existing registration list. How much and how that plays out, we’re still studying.”
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Voting 2020 live updates: President Trump expected to cast Florida ballot; Delaware voters won't be forced to wear masks .
President Trump expected to vote in West Palm Beach. Delaware voters don't have to wear masks. Advice on how to vote. Latest news from across the U.S.That's a lot of voters. A perhaps record number are expected to cast ballots this weekend, either by mail or at early in-person voting sites across the country. (Need help registering to vote? Check our guide.