National News

‘Fired Up’ Voters in 17 States Are Outpacing 2014 Early Ballot Counts

Posted November 1, 2018 10:13 p.m. EDT

More Americans are taking advantage of absentee and early voting this year, with at least 27.5 million ballots already cast nationwide and four days of the campaign still to go. In 17 states and Washington, D.C., advance vote counts have already surpassed those of the last midterm election.

Presidential contests tend to attract higher turnout than midterm elections; in 2016, more than 47 million votes were cast early. Yet this year’s advance vote count — which measures both absentee ballots and in-person early voting — is nearing 2014 levels.

“We’re in uncharted territory with the size of this vote,” said Michael McDonald, an associate professor of political science at the University of Florida who tracks early voting. “In some states, it’s closer to the presidential election than to the 2014 midterm election.”

Thirty-seven states and Washington permit no-excuse early voting, with policies and deadlines varying by state. Most of these states also allow absentee voting.

Populous states like Texas, which has a closely watched Senate race and a handful of competitive House races, are giving a big boost to overall advance turnout. But early turnout is high even in some states without competitive elections, like Maryland and Louisiana.

Kat Calvin, the founder of Spread the Vote, a nonprofit, sees this increased political engagement as a response to President Donald Trump and his administration’s policies. “Given the state that the country is in right now, there are very few people who don’t know that there is an election coming and that it matters,” she said. “People on both sides are really fired up.”