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44 Million Americans Have Already Voted. That's One Big Hairy Deal!
What does it MEAN? We'll find out tonight ... and after.
Do you people have any idea how hard it is to start a story about early voting (including by-mail voting) without using the phrase "As Americans go to the polls today ..."? It's nigh unpossible, especially once the phrase gets stuck in your head like a pop song you were reminded of last night. The song is The Babys' "Isn't it Time," (1977), of course. Our point here is that, as of the Monday before Election Day 2022, some 44 million Americans had already voted, either by in-person early vote (46 percent of the total) or by mail-in ballot (54 percent).
Mail-in voting would include pretty much all the ballots in eight states , like Oregon, Colorado, and Washington, which have had vote-by-mail for ages, and newcomers like California and Nevada, which are doing mostly-mail-in voting this year for the first time. Those numbers don't include mail-in ballots received today. Also too, 19 states plus the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia will count mailed ballots received shortly after Election Day, as long as they're postmarked on or before November 8 — but the requirements vary significantly by state.
And as you've no doubt heard, early voting of both types is way up when compared to the last midterm, in 2018, when people were highly motivated by anger at Donald Trump and Republican attempts to eliminate Obamacare. But as you'd expect in a midterm, it's running behind the early voting totals for a presidential election year.
What do we know about all those early votes, apart from the irrefutable fact that every single voter cheated, according to most Republicans? For starters, we know that early voting (we're going to smoosh both types together) tends to be more popular with Democrats, especially since 2020, when Donald Trump and his allies lied that mail-in voting was suspect. That's a pretty weird development, particularly since a lot of Republicans had previously been big fans of voting by mail in some states, like Arizona, although now they declare only a commie would vote by mail.
This year, about 45 percent of early ballots were submitted by Democrats , although Republicans made up a big chunk too, at 35 percent. They probably felt really bad about it, though — and remember, that would also include Republicans in the all-mail states. The remaining 20 percent was from voters with no party affiliation or members of minor parties. As NBC News points out, those percentages are partly based on computer modeling, since not all states report the partisan breakdown of early ballots they've received. And of course since the numbers are only based on voters' registered party, we won't know any actual voting trends until the ballots are counted.
What we don't know yet is whether those high early numbers for Democratic voting will be offset by in-person voting today in major races. Republicans tend to vote in higher percentages on Election Day, and some polling — if you trust polling at all which you probably shouldn't anymore — shows Republicans may be more enthusiastic about voting this year, which is typical for members of the party that's not in power in a midterm election. But that could also be completely wrong. Democrats are very very aware of the threats to democracy, and we are PISSED. Will we show up in big numbers? Seems likely, but also NOBODY KNOWS.
Also too, a useful point to keep in mind: The more MAGA the Republicans, the less likely they are to vote early or by mail. So there's a pretty good chance that Republicans and independents who voted early may be more likely to vote for Democrats, especially in races where the Republican candidate is an election denier.
Simon Rosenberg, the data nerd who called bullshit on all the GOP junk polls that have skewed polling averages, pointed out on Twitter that in some states, the Democratic early voting advantage should be factored into election predictions:
“Data peeps should be crunching what it's going to take for Rs to overcome these unprecedented, enormous Dem early vote leads across US. In the last 2 elections final vote was only 2-4 pts different from EV. Ds are up 11 now, and Rs have been underperforming for months. 6/”
— Simon Rosenberg (@Simon Rosenberg) 1667823834
We don't trust the "Red Wave" narrative, and soon we'll know whether it was even remotely accurate.
We'll add that it's pretty awesome to search "early voting trends" and come up with a whole bunch of headlines from individual states saying "record early voting." Georgia's secretary of state announced that, as of the end of early voting on Friday, the state had received 2.5 million early votes, which actually was six percent higher than early voting in 2020, a presidential election year, and far ahead of the 1.8 million early votes in the previous midterm, 2018. Georgians have until 7 p.m. tonight to return their absentee ballots, also too.
In Ohio, the secretary of state also announced record early and absentee voting, with both numbers exceeding 2018 turnout, which let's hope is good news for Tim Ryan. South Carolina's Election Commission reported record early voting, too. Iowa was a weird exception; on Friday, the Des Moines Register reported early voting was actually down from 2018.
One result of the heavy early vote is that it could take days or even weeks for the results of some races to be finally tabulated, especially in states where the legislatures (usually Republican-dominated) forbid the "pre-canvassing" of absentee ballots before Election Day. That's the processing of ballots before they're counted: opening mailed ballots, checking the voter's signature and other identifying stuff like bar codes, and flattening the folded ballots so they can be run through a counting machine. States that allow that to be done prior to Election Day make fairly quick work of the actual tabulation of the vote, while states that can't start doing it until Election Day — including two huge swing states, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — will take far longer to process all their mailed ballots.
Big surprise: After Republican-dominated legislatures set up procedures that will guarantee a slower vote count, Republicans then complain that not all the votes are counted on Election Night, insisting there must be some frauding going on. How conVEEEEnient! Add in additional fuckery like Pennsylvania Republicans' bullshit lawsuit seeking to throw out thousands of absentee ballots on a technicality, and we'll be waiting awhile for election results to be final.
So if you haven't voted, get yourself to the polls already, and take a friend! Also, you may as well get this stuck in your head, too, because for damn sure, It's Time.
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