High Levels Of Early Voting Indicate Intense Interest In The Election

In several states, early voting has doubled since 2014.

Early voting is over in many states and the results show very high turnout in many states across the country. In at least 27 states, early voting this year has exceeded 2014 levels and, in some cases, has doubled from four years ago.

University of Florida associate professor Michael McDonald, head of the University of Florida Elections Project, told CBS News that the high levels of early voting indicate that total voter participation could reach 45-50 percent by Election Day.

“In the last three decades, we've had about 40 percent of those eligible to vote participating in midterm elections. If we get in the upper end of that range, if we can beat the 1966 49-percent turnout rate, you'd have to go all the way back to 1914 to get a turnout rate above 50 percent,” McDonald said.

In Georgia, where the gubernatorial race between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams is being watched closely around the country, the Atlanta Journal reported that Georgia’s early voters totaled almost 2.1 million. This is more than twice the number of Georgians who voted early in 2014. The UF Elections Project reports that Delaware, Tennessee, and Texas also doubled the number of early voters since 2014.

More than half of the states, at least 27, report increases early voting over 2014. These states include Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. More than 24 million early votes have been cast across the country. In 2014, that number was 21.2 million.

The increased interest in early voting has led to lines at some polls. In my county in Georgia, only one polling station is open for early voting. I always vote early due to an unpredictable work schedule and usually walk right in and out. This year, however, my wife and I had to wait about 20 minutes to cast our ballots ahead of Election Day.

Some may try to read the tea leaves by looking at voter registration data of early voters. NBC News reported that, as of October 31, Republicans had cast 43 percent of ballots compared with 40 percent for Democrats and 16 percent for independents. In a year of crossover voting with the #WalkAwayFromDemocrats and #GOPVotingBlue campaigns and control of the Senate hinging on very close races, this seems uncertain at best.

Like a kid before Christmas, politicos of both sides will just have to wait until Tuesday night to find out what the voters have decided. There’s no way to peek or peel back the wrapping of the election results since even early ballots are not counted until Election Day. The only certainty is that the amount of early voting indicates intense interest in this midterm election.

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