•   
  •   
  •   

Politics 'Unprecedented': Voter turnout in election could reach highest rate in more than a century

22:10  21 october  2020
22:10  21 october  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

The 19th Explains: Everything you need to know about voting and Election Day 2020

  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.

WASHINGTON – In Harris County, Texas, home to the nation's fourth-largest city, Houston, a record 128,000 people voted in person the first day of early voting last week. Then 115,000 the second day. And 105,000 the next.

It's hardly slowed down since.

Through the first eight days of early voting in Texas, 801,000 people voted in Harris County, eclipsing 93% of the county's 2016 early voting total, with 10 more days of early voting left.

Start the day smarter. Get all the news you need in your inbox each morning.

Houston's extraordinary turnout, which includes in-person and mail-voting, has helped make Texas – which historically votes at among the lowest rates nationally – ground zero for the this year's early voting explosion in the presidential election. A battleground in the race between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, Texas has reached nearly 60% of its overall turnout from 2016 with 5.3 million people voting so far.

The many ways we know 2020 will be a banner year for voting

  The many ways we know 2020 will be a banner year for voting There are lots of reasons besides voter registration to believe voter turnout will be high.As the country continues to grapple with the pandemic, this election season is proving to be an exceptional one. The ways in which people are voting, for instance, are far from typical. Some 80 million Americans could cast their ballots by mail, 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.

a group of people walking down the street: Voters line up and wit to cast a ballot at the American Airlines Center during early voting Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) ORG XMIT: TXMO102 © LM Otero, AP Voters line up and wit to cast a ballot at the American Airlines Center during early voting Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, in Dallas. (AP Photo/LM Otero) ORG XMIT: TXMO102

"The numbers that we've seen, they've blown out our expectations," said Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins. "We certainly expect that this will be the highest turnout election of all-time here."

More: 'Staggering numbers': Early voting is breaking records in 2020, fueled by a big mail-ballot lead for Democrats

Months ago, some questioned whether the U.S. could pull off an election during a raging pandemic.

Now, early voting is smashing records across the country: North Carolina, Georgia and Michigan, other swing states in the race for president, have either surpassed or are approaching 40% of their overall 2016 turnout. More than 40 million people had voted early, either in-person or by mail, as of Wednesday afternoon, more than six times the 6 million who had voted early around this time in 2016.

Portland on track to see record voter turnout as Oregonians choose next secretary of state

  Portland on track to see record voter turnout as Oregonians choose next secretary of state Portland is on track for record voter turnout in an election season that will decide whether Republicans can retain their claim to the state's second most powerful office. © Provided by Washington Examiner In Oregon, the secretary of state oversees a host of nonpartisan departments including elections, audits, archives, and the business registry. The secretary of state also has a seat on the state land board with the governor who they are first in line to succeed in the event of the governor’s death or resignation. Gov. Kate Brown was the last secretary of state to do so when former Oregon Gov.

"It's unprecedented," said Michael McDonald, associate professor of political science at the University of Florida, who manages the United States Elections Project.

US passes a quarter of 2016 turnout

With less than two weeks before Election Day, voter turnout nationally is nearing 30% of the overall 138.8 million people who voted four years ago. For the first time in election history, more people are expected to vote early than on Election Day.

McDonald, who tracks early voting numbers by the minute, said it's possible 85 million people could vote before Election Day and perhaps 150 million will vote in total. Ten times more mail ballots have been returned than at this point in 2016 and twice as many people have voted in-person.

Several states changed laws from four years ago to either offer or expand early voting, and more people are taking advantage of it, particularly voting by mail, amid the coronavirus pandemic. States have also gotten better at reporting their daily vote tallies.

What poll watchers actually do, and Trump’s troubling rhetoric about them, explained

  What poll watchers actually do, and Trump’s troubling rhetoric about them, explained Some concerns around poll watching don’t have to do with the people designated to be inside voting sites.To facilitate that, the Trump campaign has launched Army for Trump, an effort to mobilize tens of thousands of volunteers for get-out-the-vote efforts, including poll watching. A Trump campaign spokesperson told Vox that it hopes to fill 40,000 poll-watching shifts, and expects to exceed their goal of recruiting 50,000 volunteer poll watchers.

More: Who's undecided? Donald Trump's toughest hurdle to pull off a win: Most minds are made up

Democrats continue to fuel the mail-voting surge, accounting for 9.2 million, or 52.8%, of the 17.5 million mail ballots returned by voters in the 19 states that report voter registration data. Trump has slammed mail-voting throughout the campaign, likely turning off many of his supporters to the method.

Republican voters have returned 4.4 million ballots, or 25.2% of all returned ballots, and voters with no party affiliation have returned 3.7 million mail ballots, accounting for 21.5%.

"Voters are heeding the call of election officials and the campaigns, particularly the Biden campaign, to vote early and get those mail ballots in early," McDonald said. "There was some doubt whether or not we'd be able to run an election in the midst of a pandemic. It's going to happen. Now we just need to see how it all shakes out."

More: Donald Trump keeps blasting 'universal' mail voting. But few states are planning that in November

Turnout of eligible voters could reach highest since 1908

If voters on Election Day – who are expected to disproportionately favor Trump – turn out as expected, McDonald believes the U.S. could have the highest percentage of eligible voters actually vote since 1908. (Figures are according to the Vital Statistics of American Politics. )

How battleground states process mail ballots -- and why it may mean delayed results

  How battleground states process mail ballots -- and why it may mean delayed results More Americans are voting by mail this election than usual, due to the pandemic. But processing those ballots takes more time. Here's how it works in battleground states. Because of the pandemic, more voters are opting to cast their ballots by mail this year. While the expanded access and increased use of mail-in voting is good for voters, it does create hardships for already strained election officials in many states, including key battlegrounds.

That year, Republican William Howard Taft defeated Democrat William Jennings Bryan with 65.7% of the voting-eligible population participating. This was before the the 19th Amendment, so the pool of eligible voters did not include women, and laws in the South also restricted many Black Americans' ability to vote. Turnout was much higher, greater than 80% of eligible voters in some years, throughout much of the 19th century.

Turnout among those eligible to vote began to decline in 1972 and was in the low 50 percent-range throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The lowest mark in recent history was 1996 with 51.7% of the voter-eligible population participating. The rate started to rise in 2004 and has been at about 60% since. In 2016, 60.1% of the voter-eligible population voted.

Fact check: Joe Biden misspoke about his campaign's voter protection efforts

  Fact check: Joe Biden misspoke about his campaign's voter protection efforts The viral video clip in which Biden says he created a "voter fraud organization" is missing context. Biden actually was describing voter protections.“We have put together, I think, the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics,” Biden said in a clip posted to Instagram Oct. 24.

After the 2018 midterm election, which was the highest midterm turnout since 1914, McDonald predicted the 2020 presidential election could hit the 1908 turnout rate. It would require more than 150 million people voting.

"There's no reason at this point to revise that downwards with these record numbers," McDonald said.

'I'll show you' attitude, Houston clerk says of voters

Nowhere is high turnout on display more than rapidly growing Texas, which for the first time in a generation is getting attention from both the Republican and Democratic standard-bearers as Biden looks to put the Lone Star State in play. Democrats last won Texas in 1976.

Texas is breaking records despite not being among the states that expanded vote-by-mail during amid the pandemic.

In Houston, Hollins pointed to tripling the number of early voting sites to 122 and for the first time offering drive-thru voting, in which around 10% of in-person early voters have taken part. On Oct. 29, Harris County will also offer 24/7 early voting in certain locations to accommodate medical workers and others who work graveyard shifts.

More: We analyzed a conservative foundation's catalog of absentee ballot fraud: It's not a 2020 election threat

a person in a suit and tie: Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins answers a question about the upcoming election during an interview at election headquarters Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Houston. © David J. Phillip, AP Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins answers a question about the upcoming election during an interview at election headquarters Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, in Houston.

Hollins, a Democrat, said he believes efforts aimed at "misinformation" and "voter suppression" from Trump and Republican leaders in the state have motivated voters. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this month ordered that no county – including Harris County which has a population of 4.7 million – have no more than one mail-ballot drop off location, a move that was upheld in court.

Trump’s Voter-Suppression Strategy Is a Crisis (Even If It Backfires)

  Trump’s Voter-Suppression Strategy Is a Crisis (Even If It Backfires) Historic turnout doesn’t erase the threat posed by the GOP’s open contempt for the political rights of its opposition.Some have cited the latter fact as evidence that concerns over the former one have been irrational and overblown. They are wrong. Before getting into that, though, let’s review precisely how Donald Trump and his party are trying to win the 2020 election.

"I think the voters' reaction to that is to say, 'I'll show you.' Basically, 'Don't mess with Texas,'" Hollins said. "I think some of these efforts at getting people to stay home have backfired. And people are really, really motivated to get out. I think that's regardless of their party, regardless of who they are planning to vote for. Everyone is yearning to have their voices heard right now."

Trump, Republicans relying on big Election Day turnout

Behind Texas, states with the most early votes as of Wednesday are California, 4.5 million; Florida, 3 million; North Carolina, 1.8 million; New Jersey, 1.8 million; and Michigan, 1.7 million.

States with the highest share of voters in relation to their overall 2016 turnout are: Texas, 59.2%; Vermont, 51.1%; Montana, 47.1%; Georgia, 45.9%; New Jersey, 46.3%; North Carolina, 45.2%; New Mexico, 40.1%; Virginia, 39.1%; Colorado, 37.5% and Michigan, 34.3%.

Republicans have matched turnout among Democrats with in-person early voting in some states and surpassed Democrats in others. For example, in Florida, 44.5% of the state's 721,000 in-person early voters have been Republican, compared to 39% of Democrats.

More: Biden voters twice as likely than Trump supporters to vote by mail in November, survey finds

More: 'Running out of time': Efforts to speed up counting mail ballots stall in battleground states

Republicans also have an edge with in-person voting in states such as New Mexico and Nevada. But it hasn't overcome Democrats' massive advantage with mail voting.

"If Republicans aren't eating into the edge that Democrats have, it's really putting all of the eggs into the Election Day basket," McDonald said. "The Trump campaign is going to have to hope that all of their voters show up on Election Day, and that's risky."

Voting problems have been minor, experts say

David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, said voter enthusiasm across the political spectrum was high heading into the election. Faced with a pandemic, he said people are accepting the "new normal" and making plans for how they will vote in the same way they plan before buying their groceries.

Survey: Nearly 2 out of 3 voters will cast their ballots early in-person or by mail, not on Election Day

  Survey: Nearly 2 out of 3 voters will cast their ballots early in-person or by mail, not on Election Day The survey showed a significant partisan divide, too. Those supporting Biden are more likely to say they plan to vote by mail than those who support Trump.When combining those who are voting by mail (42%) and those who voting early in-person (26%), nearly 2 in 3 voters will be casting their ballot ahead of Election Day, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project.

"Voters are saving us right now," he said. "For all of the late-breaking court decisions and the partisan gamesmanship, it's the American voter that is really doing the hard work here. They have educated themselves about their options. And they are showing up in numbers that we've never really dreamed of before."

More: 'I’d wait for hours if I had to': Long lines greet voters on first day of early voting in Georgia

Becker said issues so far – long lines in Georgia and other states on the first day of early voting and incorrect absentee ballots issued in some states –  are "remarkably small" given how many people have voted. He said high early voter turnout should ease the length of lines in may states on Election Day.

"We don't have anything in American history that looks like this before," said Becker, who believes "it's not crazy to think" that 100 million American voters could vote early.

"I don't want to sound too optimistic about everything. But if you can watch the tens of millions of voters showing up to vote early or returning their mail ballots and not feel inspired, then you have a harder heart than I do. This is really turning out so far to be a great moment in American Democracy."

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Unprecedented': Voter turnout in election could reach highest rate in more than a century

Survey: Nearly 2 out of 3 voters will cast their ballots early in-person or by mail, not on Election Day .
The survey showed a significant partisan divide, too. Those supporting Biden are more likely to say they plan to vote by mail than those who support Trump.When combining those who are voting by mail (42%) and those who voting early in-person (26%), nearly 2 in 3 voters will be casting their ballot ahead of Election Day, according to a survey from the Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape Project.

usr: 0
This is interesting!