Politics Millions of Americans are voting for the first time this year, and it's not just young people
'Unprecedented': Voter turnout in election could reach highest rate in more than a century
"Everyone is yearning to have their voices heard right now," one election official in Texas said about the record-breaking voter turnout.It's hardly slowed down since.
At age 99, Barbara Duvall survived COVID-19, pneumonia and five days in the hospital.
Last week, the Indiana resident voted for the first time.
"I guess I didn't have time before because of my kids, my husband and our family. I stayed with them," said Duvall, who raised three children with her husband of 63 years. "I decided this time that I wanted the right man in there."
With four days until Election Day,– more than in the 2016 general election, according to Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who runs the U.S. Elections Project.
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.
"The numbers are stunning," McDonald said in an update on his website this week. "The pace of some states' early voting is such that with almost certainty states will begin surpassing their total 2016 total vote this week."
From ages 18 to 65:
accounts for much of the surge this election cycle. But older voters are turning out, too. Of the nearly 5.5 million first-time voters who have cast their ballots, more than 2.1 million are voters over 40, according to data from TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm.
9 questions about 2020’s record-breaking early vote, answered
How many people have already voted? And what does that tell us about the election?The early vote in 2020 has already far surpassed the total early vote in 2016. The early vote surge indicates turnout in 2020 could be the highest in a century, at around 65 percent of the voting-eligible population, or about 150 million voters.
It's likely that 2020 will see an increase in first-time voters. At this time in 2016, about 3.8 million first-time voters had cast ballots, including 1.9 million people over 40.
Some of those voters – such as newly naturalized citizens – have never had the opportunity to vote before. But many, like Duvall, have been eligible to vote in previous presidential elections even though they did not cast a ballot.
This year, they're seizing the chance.
Amid, and , voters say that stakes are high and that hot-button policy issues are driving them to the polls. Some are motivated by , his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and . Others have fears about the future of law and order in the U.S.
Fact check: Mail-in ballots arriving after Election Day will count in some states
A viral post on Facebook claims any ballot received after Election Day will not be counted. That's partly false, many states have extensions in place.A recent viral post on Facebook claims that any mail-in ballots arriving after Election Day won’t be counted.
But many said it's simply much easier to vote this year:, and voting is all people are talking about.
"I was never registered or nothing. Until this time. It makes you feel better," said Duvall, who filled out an absentee ballot at her nursing home for Trump. "I know that he’s the right man – all he's done for the people."
Duvall said her husband always voted, but she stayed home with the children. Rick Duvall, 66, said his mother has followed Trump on Fox News every day since his election.
"We almost lost her, but she fought her way through it," he said. "And she couldn’t wait to get her vote in for Trump."
Guns, lies and ballots set on fire:
Tennessean Jay Gilmore, 41, has sat out of elections for 20 years. For him, the importance of voting wasn't emphasized growing up, and he believes politicians often only want his vote rather than caring about the issues that affect his family and day-to-day life.
"I have always felt like my vote doesn't not matter. My voice does not count," Gilmore said.
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What changed in 2020 was seeing "so much hate coming from our Oval Office," he said.
Gilmore voted early and went to a polling location at a church with his wife, who supported him and encouraged him to vote. He was on his way out and forgot to get his "I voted" sticker. His wife told him to run back in. He placed the stick on his mask.
"I did feel some sense of 'This is monumental,'" he said. "This might shape the way my three children view voting."
Fellow Tennessean James Butler, 52, an HVAC technician and carpenter, said he felt "on top of the world" after voting for the first time, for Biden. Like Gilmore, he proudly wore his sticker.
"I see now that my vote does matter. I want our country to be a good country again," Butler said. "We're in the worst shape since I’ve been a child. The world as we knew it – it may very well take decades before we can go back to the way we were. This country was founded on morals and values, and we’ve lost our way. So it's time for me to stake my claim in what our forefathers fought for."
Julie Hess is a bondswoman in Ithaca, Michigan, who has a child who is developmentally delayed. At age 59, she's casting her first-ever vote because it was easier to vote by absentee ballot.
Battleground states: These are the 12 states that will determine the 2020 election
Key states to watch include not only perennial toss-ups but also states Trump won solidly four years ago, including Georgia, Iowa, Ohio and Texas.Yes, voters in each of the 50 states participate in the presidential election. But, like past elections, it will be key blocs in a dozen battleground states that are likely to decide who occupies the Oval Office in January.
She had to make the choice between throwing the "people of my profession under the bus" and "a bully."includes ending cash bail, but .
Sitting in front of her computer staring at her absentee ballot, she said she had an anxiety attack.
In previous years, she has made it to voting sites but never actually cast a vote. When she was 18, a fight broke out between a Democrat and a Republican, she said, and it turned her off to voting. In 2008, she was prepared to vote for Barack Obama, but someone directed a racial slur at her in line, causing her to leave. So when COVID-19 allowed for expanded voting by absentee ballot across the country, Hess knew she could cast her vote without having to face similar issues.
"I don't think he's handled this pandemic properly," Hess said of Trump. Family members have been hospitalized with COVID-19, she said, and she has approved of the response by her governor, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, to the virus.
Ultimately, she chose Biden.
Dana Fisher, 39, and his wife drove more than 1,000 miles from South Carolina to Massachusetts to cast their votes for Trump at the polls this year. For Fisher, a software engineer and the former director of a nonprofit working with people experiencing homelessness, it was his first time voting in 20 years. His wife, a nurse who works with COVID-19 patients, voted for the first time. She declined to comment.
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"I lean right, but I have a lot of social-justice-type beliefs. And so I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016. I didn’t vote for anyone," Fisher said. "The things President Trump said he would do, he has done. And he’s certainly done a lot for minorities, which is important to me."
Fisher, who is white, referencedfor minorities, Trump's and his executive order in government hiring.
Fisher said he voted for the first time in 2000 but became disillusioned with politics, which took a backseat to his school and work life. Fisher also said he didn't feel as if his vote in Massachusetts mattered, but his views on that later changed.
"This just seems like a really, really important time," he said.
Some organizations are also breaking from tradition this year. The New England Journal of Medicine published an editorial earlier this month condemning Trump and his administration for their response to the pandemic and, forcurrent leadership to be voted out of office.
Weeks later, USA TODAY's Editorial Boardsince its founding in 1982. Four years ago, the board urged readers not to vote for Trump but stopped short of an outright endorsement of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.
Other groups that hadn't endorsed a presidential candidate backed Trump this year. In New York City, the president of the city's largest police union said his group's support of Trump was the first time he can recall in the organization's history.
"That's how important this is," Patrick Lynch, president of the New York City Police Benevolent Association, said during an event in August at Trump's New Jersey golf course.
USPS Service blows deadline to check for missing ballots. About 300,000 can't be traced
Fearless Forecast Week 9: 3 Rec, 30 Yds Projected Points: 6.4
Jeffrey Baker, 63, said he "can't stand Trump." He never voted until the primaries in 2020. In 2016, he said he was certain Hillary Clinton would win. "I thought they didn't need my vote. What's one vote? Boy was I wrong," he said.
His brother, Alan Baker, 64, hadn't voted since 1984. "I was young, dumb, I was more worried about having more fun than I was worried about the vote," the elder Baker said.
Both men served in the Marines, and Jeffrey Baker said he felt apolitical for years with his military background. "I got in my head that voting wasn't important."
"What he's done toand the military in general, forget it," Alan Baker said of Trump. Jeffrey Baker was critical of Trump's relationship with foreign leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korea's Kim Jong Un.
Both men cast their ballots for Biden this year absentee, Alan from Florida and Jeffrey from Texas.
Celebrities are joining in, too.until recently completing an absentee ballot. He also participated in a virtual rally to support Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
"I don’t have any excuses, but I didn’t have time," O'Neal had told USA TODAY. "There’s a lot of people speaking out and a lot of people that are fed up. That is good. ... We’re making a lot of noise, and now we have to urge people to vote and get people in places that understand what we’re talking about so laws can be changed."
, 57, announced in a video posted to Twitter Wednesday that he voted for the first time this election, for Trump. "Four more years, baby. Four more years," he said in the video.
, 49, and , 54, said they're finally voting after years of believing that their felony records prevented them from casting a ballot. About in the U.S. are of voting age but cannot vote because of a prior felony conviction, according to the Sentencing Project, a D.C.-based research and advocacy center.
Roger Speer, 59, of Lakewood, Washington, had his voting rights restored in 2017 after a felony conviction. For decades, politics didn't really interest Speer. "When I got clean and then the whole Bush-Gore thing in Florida was when I started becoming more interested in what was going on, but I still didn't vote."
"Once Trump became president, then I couldn't wait" to regain eligibility and vote, he said.
"The impeachment hearing was like the tipping point," Speer said. While he said he felt good when filling in his absentee ballot, he still has concerns about the election given the concern many have raised about mail-in voting. Luckily, he said he could check online and see his ballot was received and accepted.
For Adriana Hoffman, 43, a yoga teacher and Southern California resident, it'll be her first time voting – and her first opportunity to do so. Originally from Brazil, where voting is compulsory, Hoffman first came to the U.S. 10 years ago. She got married and received citizenship two years ago.
Hoffman is not registered with a political party and did not vote in the primary, but she said she plans to vote for Trump because she favors his tax and foreign policies.
"He's not with the establishment," Hoffman said. "I see him as a good businessman. He did majornobody's talking about. He's not perfect, you know, but I think he's a better choice."
Hoffman said she hasn't voted yet because she's looking forward to going to the polling station near her house on Election Day.
"My husband, he sent his ballot, but I like actually to go and vote there. It’s really close to my house," Hoffman said. "In Brazil, by the law you have to vote. You don’t have the choice. But here you have the choice. I'm going to go there on Nov. 3 and vote."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
USPS Service blows deadline to check for missing ballots. About 300,000 can't be traced .
Fearless Forecast Week 9: 3 Rec, 30 Yds Projected Points: 6.4