Voting, American style

Early voting has begun in the US. It is estimated that about 18 million people have already voted, about ten times the number at this point in the election cycle in 2016. Given that the total number of people who voted in 2016 was around 137 million, that means that 13% of ballots have already been cast and we could well be on the way to having about a third to half the people voting before election day. In those parts of the country that do not allow mail-in voting for anyone who requests it, we are seeing extremely long lines at polling locations.

In Texas, for example, more than 1 million residents stood in line to cast their votes on Tuesday, the state’s first day of early voting. Despite Gov. Greg Abbott (R) limiting each state county to only having one mail-in ballot drop-off location, the Lone Star State has received roughly 400,000 mailed ballots so far.

Voters in Georgia — which performed the largest voter purge in American history in 2017 —  waited in line for up to 12 hours on Monday to vote in-person. About 379,000 Georgians have voted early this week and over 500,000 have mailed in their ballots. Of those who voted in-person, a third were Black.

Early in-person voting doesn’t start in Florida until Monday, but over 2 million Floridians have already mailed in their ballots — more than 20 percent of the total voter turnout the Sunshine State saw in 2016.

Long lines have also been reported in Ohio, lines that could have been avoided but were caused by deliberate Republican efforts to make voting harder, especially in those areas that they think are more likely to vote Democratic.

In-person early voting started in Ohio this week, and in the state’s largest cities, it was a total mess. In Columbus, the line stretched for a quarter of a mile. In Cuyahoga county, the hours-long wait began before polls even opened.

All of this was entirely predictable. Thanks to an Ohio state law passed in 2006 by a Republican-controlled legislature and signed by a Republican governor, the number of in-person early voting sites is limited to just one per county. That means Vinton County, a Republican stronghold in the state’s southeast that’s home to just 13,500 Ohioans, has approximately 97 times more polling-places-per-voter than Franklin County, the deep-blue bastion with a population of more than 1.3 million.

The increased early voting may not be entirely due to increased enthusiasm. It may be due to the pandemic, though that would only explain the rise in mail-in voting and not the people who are waiting in line for hours to vote. It also does not mean that the voter enthusiasm is all on the Democratic side. Beleaguered Trump supporters may also be fired up by the prospect that their hero might lose and decided that they must vote early too.

As I said in an earlier post, the efforts at voter suppression are so blatant that it risks backfiring on Republicans if makes Democrats become even more determined to vote.

(The K Chronicles)


  1. DonDueed says

    I have already voted. My mailed-in ballot has been received and accepted.

    Hoping for a Biden landslide that sweeps away all the other evil-party candidates along with their “fearless leader”. But still worried that Trump’s efforts at suppression and waters-muddying will wind up with the decision in the hands of a stacked SCOTUS.

  2. anat says

    Our family got our ballots on Thursday. I’m mailing my son’s ballot to him today -- he is registered here but lives near his college. I already told him if this is not fast enough for him he can download his ballot from the county website, print it out and follow the instructions on how to return it. I’ll be voting soon, still have a couple of judges to read up on, to see if I might form a strong opinion one way or the other.

    Today I am also mailing the ‘get out the vote’ letters I wrote for ‘vote forward’. I still need to find a 3 hour slot to phone-bank for Kim Schrier, the only really vulnerable Democratic Congressperson from Washington.

    I like Washington’s universal vote by mail (with some option for in-person voting, mostly intended for people who missed deadlines or who need assistance, such as translation, or who might need an audio ballot or a large-print version). Voting in leisure at the kitchen table!

  3. Holms says

    Given that the total number of people who voted in 2016 was around 137 million,

    I have a hunch that this election will see a large jump in the number of votes cast. Much larger than the simple increase expected from population growth; it may even be the largest increase -percent and absolute -- since women’s suffrage.

  4. nifty says

    I strongly agree with anat- I am another WA voter who feels very fortunate when compared to other states. (For example, we have a friend from Harris county TX, the county with Houston, with only 1 drop off spot.) My county of 300,000 has 30 drop off spots. I could use my grocery store, my work place, the local community college, and a church in walking distance from my home as drop off spots. We have had our ballots for over a week and no postage needed if we wanted to mail them. Pretty much the only Rep official I have any respect for in the country is our Secretary of State, Kim Wyman, who has made sure that our elections are fair and get broad participation.

  5. says

    That is really spectacular. The USA, the alleged model of freedom and democracy every country in the world should strive to imitate cannot even let its citizens vote properly.

    The longest I have ever waited to cast my vote in any election since I was eligible was about one minute when I waited for the person in the booth to fill out their form. We have on average one voting district per each 700 citizens and all elections take two days -- friday and saturday -- so everyone has a chance to cast a vote at convenient time irrespective of their job. Early voting? Never heard of it, never needed it.

    You guys are waiting in line to vote like people in former soviet block waited to buy toilet paper. Oh the irony.

  6. mnb0 says

    What Charly writes. Granted, I never voted for more than one issue at the same time at either national, provincial or municipal elections and then only for parliament, states-provincial and municipal council. Oh, I forgot the elections for the European parliament. In all cases walking to the voting station takes more time than voting itself.
    In Suriname it’s about the same. Odd that this developing country is more efficient in organizing elections than the superpower with the biggest economy.

  7. billseymour says

    In Missouri, you need a reason to request an absentee ballot; but this year, being over 65 and concerned about COVID-19 was a valid reason.

    I dropped the ballot in the mailbox on Monday (a national holiday, so it wasn’t actually collected until some time on Tuesday); and when I check the ballot tracking Web site a bit after noon today, it saw that it was “received.”

    I sent an e-mail to the St. Louis County Election Board asking whether there would be other states that get reported, e.g., “signature verified” or “opened and counted”. I don’t expect an answer until some time on Monday.

    Charly @5:

    You guys are waiting in line to vote like people in former soviet block waited to buy toilet paper.

    Indeed. I fear that we’re becoming a third-world country (and we know what Trump calls those).

  8. Trickster Goddess says

    British Columbia is in the process of a provincial election right now. Early voting started on Thursday. In my electoral district there are 6 locations for early voting and each of them are open for 7 consecutive days from 8 am to 8 pm. I stopped by one on my way home from doing some errands and from the time I arrived to the time I walked out was just 3 minutes. General Voting Day is next Saturday. Over 400,000 voters have requested mail in ballots, compared to only 10,000 for the last election.

  9. springa73 says

    I guess voting in the US depends on where you live. I’ve never had to wait more than a few minutes to vote in person. It seems to me that there must not be nearly enough polling places in those areas where people have to wait hours in line. Of course, if they are in urban areas then Republicans want voting to be as difficult as possible. There shouldn’t be any place in a democratic country for the policy of voter suppression, but it is apparently popular enough in many places to get by.

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