Hello Fight to Vote friends,
The election is extremely under way, with a record number of Americans casting their ballot via mail or in-person during early voting hours across the country.
I’m personally shocked (in a mostly good way) how many people are voting early instead of waiting for election day and it seems like I’m not the only one. While it’s partly the Covid-19 pandemic driving people to be more proactive, there are also signs that the turnout signals a swell of civic engagement.
Just look at these early voting stats
An estimated 39.8 million people have voted in the US as of Wednesday morning.
20% of the votes cast are by people who did not vote in 2016.
Texas is leading the US in most ballots cast so far, with 4.6m votes – that’s more than half of the state’s voter turnout in 2016.
Florida also beat its early voting record, with 350,000 voters casting their ballot on Monday, the first day of early voting.
Is early voting good for Democrats or Republicans?
There’s no easy answer to that. Currently, there are more registered Democrats voting early than their Republican counterparts. That includes voting by mail, which we’re tracking in swing states here at the Guardian.
It could be that Republicans are opting to vote on election day because the president has tried to sow confusion and fear around mail-in voting . But will there be enough red votes to make up for the groundswell of blue early votes? We won’t know until 3 November at least.
So the election system is functioning well?
I wouldn’t say that. While voters are turning out in droves, the election process itself is under fire. Here’s why:
State officials such as Florida’s secretary of state are still trying to change rules and put burdensome restrictions in place.
Mail-in votes are being rejected over small technicalities. In North Carolina, this is disproportionately affecting Black voters.
Amid all this, millions of Americans have decided that their vote matters now more than ever. The first-time voters we recently interviewed in Texas exemplify this attitude:
“I’m 50 years old now. You see things in another perspective. How many times can you vote in your life? There’s not that many. There are none you can afford to lose. You always talk about ‘freedom’ and this is that – the option to choose.” – Carmen Rocha, 50.
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