As the November midterm elections draw closer, early voting is on the rise nationwide.
More than 7 million Americans have already cast their ballots, in person or by mail, as of Monday. A number of states are reporting big jumps in voter turnout compared to previous midterm cycles.
In battleground Georgia, midterm voting records have been shattered. More than 750,000 people in the state voted early, in-person in the first week of early voting, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.
In Florida, nearly 1.2 million people already returned their mail-in ballots as of Monday.
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In Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state, more than 550,000 have already voted according to the latest data from the University of Florida’s US Elections Project.
In Ohio, data shows an increase in the number of in-person voters from 2018 although absentee ballot requests essentially mirror 2018 totals. The state’s election officials have cautioned against reading too much into the early numbers.
“While not a significant increase over the same point in the 2018 election, Ohioans are showing confidence in Ohio’s abundant early voting opportunities,” Secretary of State Frank LaRose said. “Our bipartisan boards of elections have done an incredible job making their early voting centers ready, and lines are short for anyone who wants to make sure their voice is heard.”
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Still, election experts say the high turnout could be attributed to several factors.
“It’s just easier, people like it, and then there is the stimulus of a close election where you as a voter think my vote is really going to matter,” said Paul Beck, an Ohio State University professor emeritus of politics.
Beck told Fox News that early voting numbers could indicate many are motivated and believe the stakes in this election are high, while some may have just changed their voting behavior after 2020.
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“They opened things up during the pandemic and now they [voters] don’t want to go back to showing up at the polls only on Election Day,” Beck said.
Early voter turnout has continued to climb even after the passage of election laws in states like Georgia and Florida that critics said would discourage voting.
With more ballots cast early, officials in some states are also warning that the official vote count in some races will take extra time – possibly days – to complete, as in previous elections.
In more than 30 states, absentee ballots won’t be counted until Election Day – in some cases only after polls close.
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Beck said the delayed count could increase the chances that results will be delayed in some of the key races that could decide which party controls the Senate moving forward.
“As much as we want those results, we could be waiting until late November for some of the official counts – but that doesn’t mean the count can’t be trusted,” Beck said.