Record early voting record for US presidential

More than 25 million Americans had voted by mail or in person as of Friday, according to a count by the US Elections Project.

By:
AFP

02:00 PM / 17/10/2020

A scene is repeated practically throughout the United States: long lines of voters casting their vote in advance for the presidential elections, responding to the call for mobilization of the Democrats and for fear of the coronavirus pandemic, less than three weeks before the elections.

More than 25 million Americans had voted by mail or in person as of Friday, according to a count by the US Elections Project, an online electoral statistics system from the University of Florida.

These record numbers come amid a sharply polarized election between Republican billionaire Donald Trump, who is running for a second term, and Democrat Joe Biden, who currently leads national polls.

Although the figures are currently in favor of former vice president Barack Obama, the election has yet to be decided, warns Professor Michael McDonald, who is in charge of the count.

“The strong Democratic vote right now shouldn’t be an indicator that Biden has the election,” McDonald warned in an analysis posted on his website.

“Yes, the numbers are very good for Biden,” he said, “however, it is very likely that Republicans will show up to vote in person” on November 3, Election Day.

In all, 43 states and the federal capital, Washington, established early voting systems for the election. Almost 75 million ballots were requested or sent by mail, more than double the 33 million for the 2016 elections, and local authorities established mailboxes or special points to deposit the vote.

These measures respond to strong demand from voters, who fear they will catch COVID-19 if they go to the crowded polls on election day.

In Iowa, a Midwestern state where the president held a rally Wednesday, early voting began Oct. 5, and as of Friday more than 454,000 voters had cast their votes, according to the US Elections Project.

“Cannibalize” voters

In Georgia (southeast), more than 1.3 million people had voted according to the same source, some of whom waited more than 10 hours to do so.

Early voting began Thursday in North Carolina (eastern), where Kamala Harris, Biden’s running mate, was expected to mobilize Democratic voters from Asheville.

However, the senator had to cancel her visit when she learned that two members of her team tested positive for covid-19.

Southern Texas has registered a record number of early votes since the polls opened on Tuesday. According to preliminary figures, 128,186 people turned out on the first day, almost double the number four years ago.

On Tuesday, in front of the Rice University football stadium in downtown Houston, Solmaz Afshar waited his turn wearing a mask and maintaining social distance.

“I wanted to make sure my vote was counted before something could happen between now and election day,” the 32-year-old nurse told AFP.

Trump has consistently criticized vote-by-mail, arguing that it leads to “fraud of unprecedented scale” to the benefit of his opponent. However, there has been no evidence of widespread irregularities in previous votes.

His campaign team accuses the Democratic party of “irresponsibly scaring voters away from the polls and cannibalizing voters on Election Day in favor of a vote by mail.”

But “Republicans will appear in person on election day and re-elect President Trump,” the president’s campaign spokeswoman, Thea McDonald, told The Washington Post.

In Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday, where recent polls predict a close result, supporters of the president said they were convinced he would win.

“I don’t give much credit to the polls, they were wrong in 2016,” Sheila Dickson told AFP.

“I see the enthusiasm and loyalty of the people to our country and our president,” said this mother before attending Trump’s rally.

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