(The Guardian) – More than 50 million Americans have cast ballots in the US presidential election with 11 days to go in the campaign, a pace that could lead to the highest voter turnout in over a century, according to data from the US Elections Project on Friday.
The eye-popping figure is a sign of intense interest in the contest between Republican Donald Trump and Joe Biden, his Democratic challenger, as well as Americans’ desire to reduce their risk of exposure to Covid-19, which has killed more than 221,000 people across the United States. Many states have expanded in-person early voting and mail-in ballots ahead of election day on 3 November, as a safer way to vote during the coronavirus pandemic.
The high level of early voting has led Michael McDonald, the University of Florida professor who administers the US Elections Project, to predict a record turnout of about 150 million, representing 65% of eligible voters, the highest rate since 1908. In Texas, the level of voting has already surpassed 70% of the total turnout in 2016.
In Georgia, some have waited in line for more than 10 hours to cast their ballots. And Wisconsin has seen a record number of early votes, with 1.1 million people have returned their ballots as of this week. Voters in Virginia, Ohio, and Georgia have also seen long lines at early voting sites.
The pandemic has upended campaign traditions and its effects are still being felt. Americans may find themselves waiting days or weeks to know who won as election officials count tens of millions of mail-in votes. Democrats are encouraging supporters to vote early – either in person or by mail – amid fears that the United States Postal Service (USPS) may not have the capacity to deliver mail-in ballots to election officials on time. MORE