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Early vote counts continue to climb past usual midterm turnout


(WASHINGTON) — More than 8 million people have voted early in the 2022 general election, according to data analyzed by the University of Florida’s U.S. Elections Project — about 6 million more than just a week ago.

On Monday the project counted 8,018,219 early votes, of which 6,322,916 mail-in ballots have been returned and 1,695,303 ballots have been cast in person thus far. On Monday, Oct. 17, ElectProject.org had tallied 2,030,730 early votes, including 1,842,115 returned mail-in ballots and 188,615 ballots cast in person.

A number of states have opened up early voting within the past week, according to University of Florida professor Michael McDonald, who heads the Elections Project. That has led to the sharp uptick in early vote totals. Turnout in 2022 is still projected to be higher than usual for a midterm election, according to McDonald, even though midterms have historically low participation compared to presidential cycles despite growing interest in recent years.

“It does seem very robust, early voting … I think we’re looking at more like a 2018 election, definitely,” he told ABC News on Monday, noting that the last midterm election in 2018 recorded some of the highest turnout in the nation’s history.

With the general election now 15 days away, some sort of early voting option is underway in over 35 states. Early voting periods range in length from four days to 45 days before Election Day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The pace of early voting numbers should pick up even further this week, McDonald said, as additional states start offering in-person early voting and additional ballots should be sent out for those who have requested mail-in options.

Georgia, in its first general election test of a sweeping elections bill signed into law in 2021 by incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp — legislation that Democrats widely deemed as restrictive — has been shattering past turnout trends.

Georgia has had record early voting turnout since the option to cast a ballot opened last Oct. 17, surging to nearly twice the number on the first day of early voting in 2018, according to the secretary state’s website.

Totals are within “striking distance” of the 2020 presidential election turnout.

As of Monday morning, more than 758,000 Georgia voters had cast their ballots, with 18,109 showing up on the first Sunday of early voting. Sunday’s total “marks an astounding 211% of the 2018 midterm total for the first Sunday of Early Voting,” according to the state.

“211% of 2018 shows that voters are enthusiastic, but most importantly, have the options available to get that vote in early,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

“Reducing the Election Day burden on county election officials ensures success on Election Day. County election officials deserve our praise, as both counties and voters are prepared this year… County election officials have done a great job getting that information to their voters.”

In Florida, in-person early voting began on Monday in 37 Florida counties. The state has already seen some of the highest numbers of the cycle, leading the nation in early vote totals at 1,164,713 cast thus far. California trails with 1,077,199 ballots returned.

McDonald has said that because of Florida’s larger size, broader voter turnout activity is expected, along with the fact that Floridians tend to use mail ballots more frequently than some of the other states have so far been casting votes early.

Other large states like California, which have sent their mail-in ballots out slightly later, will quickly catch up, he said.

There is a “very good chance that California will surpass Florida once we get the evening report,” McDonald said Monday.

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