In the US there is already voting: what is (and how is it going) early voting

In the US there is already voting: what is (and how is it going) early voting

Early voting for the next presidential elections has started in the United States. There is a much higher turnout than in 2016, despite some organizational difficulties at the local level, also due to the Covid-19 pandemic

(photo: Craig F. Walker / The Boston Globe via Getty Images) Only three weeks to go to the day of the presidential elections of the United States, November 3, which will see the current Republican President Donald Trump and the Democratic candidate Joe Biden confront each other. As the New York Times reports, the Covid-19 pandemic this year introduced new rules into the US voting system - such as the ability to vote by mail - that each federal state is handling differently. But something that hasn't changed is: early voting, the early voting that most of the United States makes available to citizens (by mail or in person) in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

Many federal states have already started this week, such as Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, Texas, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Vermont, with historic levels of early turnout. Data from the U.S. Elections Project show that several of them have already exceeded 20% of their total votes in the 2016 presidential elections. As of October 16 four years ago, in fact, only 1 million and 400 thousand votes had been cast in advance. As of today, October 14, 8.8 million people have already voted by mail and another 962 thousand have gone to the polling stations, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. This is despite the fact that in some states the start of early voting was difficult, with queues of almost 10 hours at the polls - it happened for example in Georgia - and errors in the voting registration portals and online voting machines, as happened in Virginia and Texas.

According to reports to the Cnbc network by the professor at the head of the U.S. Elections Project Michael McDonald, the Democratic Party is leading this historic wave of early voting: out of 4.6 million mail-order votes, Democrats have garnered more than half. However, the expert warns against singing victory too soon, given that the appeal still lacks over 46 million ballots that will arrive by post from all over the country. "The turnout of Democrats so far should not be interpreted as an indicator of the final results of the elections," recommended McDonald. Meanwhile, many federal judges are refuting the theory repeated by President Trump in recent months that the use of mail-order voting would lead to widespread election fraud.

How does early voting work?

To encourage voter participation by all citizens in a large and populous territory like the United States, most federal states now allow voters to vote several weeks before Election Day, usually the first Tuesday. of November. As explained on the National Conference of State Legislature website, citizens can go in person to the sites designated as early seats, or express their preference via a ballot paper sent to the voter's home.

Some states require voters to justify their need to vote early, while most allow everyone to request early voting without giving any reason. The methods provided by states to carry out early voting vary widely. In all cases, however, there is a constant for those who want to vote: registration on a voluntary basis in the electoral lists of their state, as established by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. The difficulties and obstacles that many citizens (especially the less well-off and less educated) they usually meet to register have always raised numerous criticisms of US democracy, with the Republican party often accused of exploiting this procedure. This phenomenon is called voter suppression, and we talked about it here.

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