More than 24 million registered voters in the United States have cast their ballots ahead of the November 3 presidential poll, according to the US Elections Project. The COVID-19 pandemic is being said is the reason behind the record surge in the early voting trend. During the 2016 election, only six million people had voted by this time of the year. The data is from the states that provide the early voting option and publicly report the numbers.
More than 57,66,377 registered Democrat voters have returned their ballots out of the 1,44,99,862 that requested it as of October 17. Meanwhile, 13,155,275 registered Republican voters have requested ballots and 24,68,418 had returned them until Friday. Out of the 1,46,41,824 non-affiliated voters that requested for ballots, 21,32,723 have returned them. As per the US Election project, voters have requested a total of 8,14,64,108 ballots in the reporting states.
Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who runs the Elections Project, had said that three factors may be the reason behind the dramatic increase in early voting. The reasons could be higher voter interest, the COVID-19 pandemic, and changing state laws like Virginia adopting full-fledged in-person early voting for the first time in this presidential election. So far, 12,13,480 people in Virginia have cast early votes, with 7,12,874 voting in-person and 5,00,606 voting by mail.
Americans will finish casting their ballots by November 3 following which the new president will be announced. According to experts, the world may not know the name of the new president even after two weeks of polling because of the unprecedented rise in mail-in voting and because some states have allowed counting of delayed ballots as long as they were cast on the day of the election. The electoral college is scheduled to vote on December 14 and the Congress will count them on January 6. Whoever receives a majority will be inaugurated as the US President on January 20.