Getting out the vote is happening.
With less than three weeks to go before Nov. 3, roughly 15 million Americans have already voted in the fall election, reflecting an extraordinary level of participation despite barriers erected by the coronavirus pandemic — and setting a trajectory that could result in the majority of voters casting ballots before Election Day for the first time in U.S. history.
In Georgia this week, voters waited as long as 11 hours to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting. In North Carolina, nearly 1 in 5 of roughly 500,000 who have returned mail ballots so far did not vote in the last presidential election. In Michigan, more than 1 million people — roughly one-fourth of total turnout in 2016 — have already voted.
The picture is so stark that election officials around the country are reporting record early turnout, much of it in person, meaning that more results could be available on election night than previously thought.
So far, much of the early voting appears to be driven by heightened enthusiasm among Democrats. Of the roughly 3.5 million voters who have cast ballots in six states that provide partisan breakdowns, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by roughly 2 to 1, according to a Washington Post analysis of data in Florida, Iowa, Maine, Kentucky, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
Additionally, those who have voted include disproportionate numbers of Black voters and women, according to state data — groups that favor former vice president Joe Biden over President Trump in recent polls.
Dozens of voters who have shown up on their states’ first day of early voting over the past several weeks have described a desire to cast their ballots at the first possible moment as a statement against the president.
“Last night felt like Christmas Eve,” said Tony Lewis, 39, who showed up at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville on Tuesday just as polls opened at 8:30 a.m. for the first day of in-person voting. “I just wanted to get out and be one of the first ones to cast my vote to hopefully end the insanity we are living in under the current administration.”
Early voting in Florida starts on Monday, October 19th, and if the last two presidential elections are any guide, there will be people lined up around the block to vote. I early-voted both times Barack Obama was on the ballot and it was like a block party. This time with all the Covid-19 precautions in place, I expect it to be more sedate and distanced.
Nothing should be taken for granted or assume that all of these early voters are for Biden or against Trump. The punditry is warning Democrats not to be complacent like they were at this time in 2016 after the Access Hollywood tape and no one in their right mind believing that a reality-show host could win. Yeah.
But if there’s one bright spot, it comes down to money. The Biden campaign is basically awash in cash while Trump is cutting back ad buys. As with everything in American politics, follow the money.
I was going to say that the one sure thing is that there will actually be an election on November 3. But the way this year is going, anything is possible, including the giant meteor or Godzilla emerging from the sea.