Early voting trends

According to the site maintained by Michael McDonald who is keeping track of early voting, in the 2016 election, 47,015,596 people voted early out of a total of 136,669,276, which works out to about 34.4%.

For this year’s election, as of today, 52,643,908 early votes have been cast, rocketing past the 2016 total with still another 10 days left to go, and the numbers have been rising at the rate of about 3-4 million votes a day. While that rate will likely drop as the days go by, we might well see over half the votes handed in before election day, even allowing for more total votes being cast in this election than 2016. This is clearly a sign of both determination to vote as well as the belief that many minds are well and truly made up.

McDonald also provides data on the party affiliation of the people requesting ballots and who have returned them, provided that that information is provided by the state.

I am getting a huge amount of election related material in the regular mail, much more so than when I was in Ohio. Much of it is related to the many ballot initiatives in California but most of it is arriving after I have voted. It seems like the campaigns were either caught by surprise by the popularity of early voting or felt that the only persuadable people are those who wait until the last minute.


  1. Tadas says

    This is an excellent video from 538.com. With so much mail-in voting, there is a good chance many states won’t have their results election night. But due to varying voting rules, certain states may give us a better idea of the eventual winner because these key swing states may have results on election night. Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina may be good predictors for the eventual winner on Nov 3rd.


  2. sonofrojblake says

    “so much mail-in voting, there is a good chance many states won’t have their results election night”

    Eh? Another entry in Things i Don’t Understand About American Elections.

    Surely this is backwards? In the UK on election day some areas report their results within a couple of HOURS. Surely if half the votes are in before election day, you can get a head start counting? More postals should equal quicker results, not slower.

    Even if for some dumb reason you can’t start counting anything before the polls close, you’re going to have all the postals lined up ready to count at least?

    Also, I know some ballots are huge and four various subjects. WHY??? Why not have ONE ballot for what is obviously the main question of interest -- the Presidency -- and put that in one box, and have a different ballot and box for all the other nonsense?

  3. EigenSprocketUK says

    In the UK, postal votes arriving early are checked in and total vote volume is available to election officers and agents. This may give some clues but is an offence to publish. The secret ballots themselves for candidates may not be counted before polls close.

  4. Some Old Programmer says

    sonofrojblake @2, the vast majority of the laws and procedures governing voting in the US are set by the states. So it’s not inaccurate to say that we don’t have a national election so much as 50 state-wide elections (plus territories).

    One ugly problem is that some states prohibit any ballot processing whatsoever before the polls close. Handling a mailed ballot requires that the processing center verify that the rules have been followed, so, e.g. verifying the signature of the voter on the envelope enclosing the ballot is a huge time sink. Fortunately my state allows this preliminary step to be done before the polls close.

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