An unprecedented number of Americans have already voted in the presidential election

Associated Press

The November election is still several weeks away, but more than 2.6 million votes have already been cast.

As of Oct. 2, voters had cast a total of 2,692,291 ballots in the reporting states, according to data from the United States Elections Project.

States that publicly report voting data (and already have voting underway) are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

In Fairfax County, Virginia, many more voters showed up on Oct. 2 compared to the previous few days, according to the county’s official elections account.

Data at press time from Florida, Iowa, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which are the six states that report voter registration data, reveal that 54.8% of those states’ votes have been cast by registered Democrats, compared to 21.9% by Republicans and 22.6% by unaffiliated voters.

According to election observers, the unprecedented surge is due to new state laws designed to help people cast their ballots safely during the coronavirus pandemic, which is a clear sign that the health crisis is changing the way people vote. Among the measures put in place in many states are the expansion of mail-in ballots and early in-person voting.

The voting numbers show a significant increase over 2016 voting trends.

“We’ve never seen so many people vote this far in advance of a presidential election before. We are in uncharted territory,” Michael McDonald, a political science professor at the University of Florida, told The Independent. McDonald, an elections expert who monitors early voting numbers posted by individual states and runs the United States Elections Project website, added that when a million votes had been cast, only 9,525 people had voted by the same time in 2016, and described the shift as “historic.”

Washington, D.C.’s WTOP News points out that this is the first year a voter could vote early in person or by mail without an excuse. If it wasn’t for COVID-19, the situation could be very different.

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