The first votes in the general election will come from North Carolina next week. But with early voting accounting for between 50 and 75 percent of total votes, political analysts are concerned that the system may benefit the Democrats in battleground states.
Because of the high prevalence of early voting, experts expect the next two months of voting in key swing states to make even a bigger difference than Nov. 8 in the outcome of the presidential race.
The Early Voting Information Center recently said that early voting could alter the dynamics of voting in battleground states such as North Carolina. Experts expect parties to hold early rallies when the early voting season starts in key states such as Ohio, Florida, and NC.
Early voting means that voters can visit a polling place and cast a ballot before the Election Day. These voters do not have to justify their absence on Nov. 8. Thirty-four states have set in place early voting. Thirteen states do not permit this type of voting including New York, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, and New Hampshire. Washington, Colorado, and Oregon have an all-mail voting system.
Early voting will kick off at the end of the month in most states. Early voters could cast about twenty million ballots before the general election day.
Supporters of this election system argue that early voting ensures a high turnout rate and favors racial minorities. Critics say that the system may encourage ill-informed ballot casts.
Early Voting Historically Favored the Democrats
In the 2008 election, early voting has pushed up turnout rates amid historically underrepresented voters such as blacks and Hispanics. Additionally in most of Florida’s federal elections since 2012, early in-person voting of racial minorities has exceeded White early voting.
Furthermore, early voting accounted for 35 percent of total votes, which marks a 22 percent increase from 2004. This is why the system worked in Democrats’ favor in some battleground states.
For instance, Barack Obama defeated Sen. John McCain through early voting in Florida, Iowa, Colorado, and North Carolina eight years ago. Obama accrued 58 percent of early votes while McCain got just 40 percent.
This made a huge difference on the Election Day, and Obama won even though in the said states more non-early voters voted for McCain. Analysts explained that the young and racial minorities cast most pre-election day votes.
In 2012, the difference was less dramatic but the Democrats still won the election as early voting clearly favored the Democratic party.
The Democrats have defended the system by saying that banning early voting would discriminate against minorities and low-income voters. These two groups, however, have been key constituents for the Democrats.
Trump Thinks Election May Be ‘Rigged’
Republicans, on the other hand, argue that the system may encourage voter fraud. Earlier last month, the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said that the entire voting system may be “rigged.”
Trump called for stricter poll-watching measures to prevent Democrats from casting multiple votes. The Republican presidential hopeful is concerned about how much early voting would benefit the Democrats. Black, Latino, and first-time voters usually vote Democrat. And early voting ensures that these particular three categories cast their ballot.
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