A state of emergency seems to be the new normal when it comes to voting in the US: Americans will not vote in person on Super Tuesday, Election Day, but will send their ballots by mail or drop them in an early ballot box. This is a common practice in other countries, but in the US, until the Covid pandemic, a minority of voters used it. As many states eased restrictions due to the pandemic, two-thirds of Americans used postal voting.
Well, it looks like the trend of early voting will continue in these midterm elections. It’s been possible for a week, and as of Monday, 7.5 million Americans had already exercised their right to vote in 46 states. The values of the midterm elections are not directly comparable to the 2020 presidential election. Due to the Covid pandemic, the proportion of postal voters rose to almost 70 per cent during that time; Four years ago it was significantly lower at 40 percent.
The comparisons with the last midterm elections in 2018 are interesting: In North Carolina, for example, twice as many voters have requested their documents to vote by mail this year, while in Florida the rate of mail-in voters has jumped 50 percent year-to-date. Georgia’s primary vote nearly doubled.
Georgia now bans serving drinks outside polling stations
Georgia’s growth is particularly noteworthy. There, the Republican majority in Parliament tightened election laws. Among other things, you have increased the requirements for ID cards to give you the right to vote. However, they have also banned distribution of drinks or food while voters are waiting in line in front of polling stations. Such restrictions were expected to reduce voter turnout, especially among Democrats. So far, however, there are many signs that Democrats in Georgia can still rally their supporters.
However, it is not clear who is benefiting from this trend. In Florida, for example, Democrats have so far held a clear advantage when it comes to mail-in ballots. But they were at it again in 2018, and this time they narrowed the gap a bit. Democratic voters are known to use postal ballots more often than Republicans, for example, twice as many in 2020 – not surprising after Donald Trump demonized postal voting as vulnerable to fraud. Conspiracy theories are circulating among his followers, according to which Democrats can easily manipulate postal votes. In the long run, however, Trump’s voters should also find early voting comfortable; In states where data are available, their use among Republicans is also on the rise.
It is already clear that a high turnout is expected. In midterm elections, it is usually significantly lower than in a presidential election year. However, many topics are electrifying in this election campaign. Democrats, for example, are reaching out to more women because the conservative Supreme Court has struck down abortion rights. After the summer recess, it was a dominant issue and gave Democrats a boost in the polls.
But now inflation, particularly petrol prices and economic concerns are again dominating the headlines. According to recent polls, Republicans have benefited from this: they should almost certainly win a majority in the House of Representatives. In many Senate races where Democrats were considered favorites, Republicans are winning the polls.
With a high turnout and many postal ballots on Election Day, November 8, it is already apparent that chaos is expected: officials need more time to count them than personally handed ballots. Some states, such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, have banned the counting of mail-in ballots before the actual election day. This is intended to prevent manipulation, but requires a long waiting period until the result is finally available. In 2020, Trump was leading on Election Day because more Republicans showed up and their votes were counted immediately. However, when postal ballots were added on election night, Biden caught on quickly — making it easier for Trump to spread his lies about election fraud. A number of tight races were also delayed for days.
Expect similar scenes this time too; In Wisconsin, for example, nearly twice as many voters have already cast ballots as in the last midterm election. The Trump camp will try to capitalize on the delay this time around. It’s especially tied together candidates for offices charged with overseeing elections — and now Trump’s nominees have to make sure they win either way.
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