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More than 100 million Americans voted prior to Election Day

November 3, 2020, 6:56 PM UTC

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At least 100 million Americans voted prior to Election Day in the 2020 general election, a record-breaking number any way you cut it. 

That’s nearly three-quarters of the total votes cast in the 2016 general election and almost one third of the total United States population.

About 64.6 million mail ballots have been returned thus far and another 36 million Americans voted early at the polls, according to University of Florida professor Michael McDonald who has been tracking these numbers for his nonpartisan site, the U.S. Elections Project. There are another 27.5 million mail ballots still outstanding, which could flow in over the next few days.

These numbers represent an incredible divergence from the one-day voting system the U.S. has used in the past and also makes it incredibly likely the 2016 record voter turnout of 139 million people will be shattered. 

Some states have already surpassed their 2016 total turnout. Hawaii is at 111% of where it was in 2016, and Texas is at 108%. Other states, like Montana, North Carolina, Georgia, New Mexico, and Nevada, are nearly at 2016 total turnout levels. 

Early projections, said McDonald, lead him to believe the final count will be 160.2 million votes, a turnout rate for those eligible to vote of 67%. That would be the highest percentage turnout of eligible voters in a presidential election since 1900, when Republican William McKinley won reelection with a turnout rate of 73.7%. 

According to data from the 20 states that report party registration of early voters, Democrats have a clear lead in early vote count. Democrats make up about 45% of early voters while Republicans make up just 30%; those with no party affiliation make up another 24%. 

Democrats overwhelmingly outnumbered Republicans with mail-in ballots, with a distribution rate of 48% to 27%, and President Trump has made it clear that he plans to contest the validity of many mail-in ballots, especially those received after Nov. 3. 

Republicans, meanwhile, showed up to the polls early and in person with more frequency than Democrats, according to the 10 states reporting party registration data.

Still, polls and the breakdowns of early voting demographics give Joe Biden a strong advantage heading into the polls on Tuesday. Voters for Trump, however, are expected to outnumber those who come out to vote for Biden on Election Day.

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