2018 early vote significantly surpasses 2014

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Early voting in 2018 has significantly surpassed 2014 figures, according to at least one analysis of such data.

Data from secretaries of state nationwide is compiled by Michael McDonald, an associate professor in political science at the University of Florida, widely cited as the leading expert on early voting.

PHOTO: Signs for candidates in the upcoming Nov. 6 election fill flower beds outside an early voting center at the City County Building in Indianapolis, Oct. 23, 2018.Michael Conroy/AP
Signs for candidates in the upcoming Nov. 6 election fill flower beds outside an early voting center at the City County Building in Indianapolis, Oct. 23, 2018.

According to McDonald, turnout in the 30 largest counties in the state of Texas, where 4,337,435 people have cast early ballots, has already surpassed the total vote (early plus Election Day) in 2014. In other words, with three days until Election Day, more people have already voted in the 30 largest counties in Texas in 2018 than did in total in 2014.

In a state with a contentious Senate race with a progressive candidate, Texans may be more motivated to vote as Democrats hope to turn the Senate blue.

Georgia is following the same trend. 2014 statewide totals came out to 1,069,912. The state has already seen a 155.4 percent uptick from that number, with 1,662,373 ballots cast as of Wednesday morning, according to their secretary of state’s office.

A close gubernatorial race is unfolding in that state between current Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams. If Abrams wins, she would be the first female African-American governor in the nation.

Kemp, who is backed by President Donald Trump has advocated for stronger voter identification laws and has faced criticism over the more than 53,000 voter applications that were put on hold due to the state’s restrictive “exact match” laws – regulations which require voters’ information on the rolls exactly match their government-issued identification. A coalition of civil rights groups has sued over the law which they say disenfranchises minority voters.

If Abrams hopes to win, she’ll need those votes.

Early voting is underway in all 34 of the states that offer the option.

McDonald breaks down the numbers by state, mail-in and in-person ballots.

Overall, early vote numbers are far higher than in 2014:

-Total ballots cast as of 11/2/18: 30,257,820

-Total ballots cast as of 11/02/14: 17,000,000

While these numbers represent a huge uptick in the early vote — a strong signal of enthusiasm ahead of Tuesday — it also is a result of many states expanding early voting opportunities.

As of Friday morning, 27 states plus the District of Columbia have surpassed their 2014 early vote totals, with four days remaining until Election Day.

McDonald said on Twitter he estimates more to join this list.

In the critical battleground state of Florida, Democrats and Republicans are casting early ballots at almost equal rates. Of the 3,001,550 early ballots cast in Florida, 41.5 percent are from registered Democrats, and 40.1 percent are from registered Republicans. In Arizona, home to one of this cycle’s most competitive U.S. Senate races, Republicans make up 42.3 percent of the early ballots cast, while Democrats comprise 33.7 percent.

In Georgia, the youth share of the early voting electorate (18-29) has doubled compared to the last midterm election in the state, from 4 percent in 2014 to 9.4 percent in 2018. In total, 1,830,026 early ballots have been cast in the Peach State.

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