Melissa Mayes at the polls. Photo by Andrew Kelly / Reuters
About 14 million people have already voted in the 2020 election, according to the first estimates released this week by Vote.org, a nonpartisan project that began this summer to help people find and sign up to vote.
The nonprofit estimates that about 3.3 million more votes will be cast in next year’s presidential election than in the 2014 midterms. To reach its conclusion, Vote.org relied on administrative data from more than 500 federal agencies and states that do not require confirmation of an individual’s identity.
The nonprofit’s sample includes 7.2 million early voters, 2.3 million absentee voters and 9.7 million straight-ticket voters.
The New York Times estimated this week that about 5.6 million Americans have already voted in 2020, when early voting begins on Oct. 22.
The figures reflect a broader surge in the number of people who want to cast votes in the 2020 presidential election. And they show that millions of voters who had previously skipped elections are now showing up at polls.
Earlier this year, the Associated Press estimated that about 25 million Americans had previously failed to vote. A month before Election Day in 2016, the nonpartisan Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or Chimerica, estimated that about 20 million people had abstained from voting or had already voted.
Because of millions of eligible voters who vote in each presidential election but not in midterms or every other mid-term election, it is impossible to say how many people are actually turning out. Experts said in early October that there was a surge in voting ahead of Election Day this year, and the percentage of early voters was at a record high.
By Wednesday, when the number of early ballots cast in Virginia surpassed the number of early ballots cast in the state’s gubernatorial contest in 2013, experts questioned whether there had been an overshooting of the true level of early voting this year.
The patterns of early voting across the country, which began in earnest with the first early voting in North Carolina last month, have largely followed past election patterns. But the recent surge prompted some observers to wonder if there might be additional buying power among millennials.
The history of early voting shows that the overwhelming majority of those casting ballots are older than 35 years old. Some of that may be due to delayed voting patterns.
A Pew Research study released Wednesday shows that about 7 million young people voted for president in 2008, 10 million in 2012 and 11 million in 2016. But only 8.8 million young people voted in 2013 and 8.5 million in 2014.
By the end of this week, more than 1.5 million young people will have voted in the Virginia governor’s race. That, along with other votes cast so far, will likely make this a young person’s election, said Morgan Jackson, the co-founder of Chimerica.