Early voting in 2016 US presidential polls breaks 2012 record

Nationwide, 29.7 per cent of all votes were cast before Election Day in 2008. Four years later, that increased to 31.6 per cent.

By: PTI | Washington | Published:November 4, 2016 3:41 pm
Voters receive their ballot to vote in the Super Tuesday election at Sleepy Hollow Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia March 1, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque Voters receive their ballot to vote. (File)

A record number of 35 million people have already voted under the early voting provision of American democratic system ahead of Tuesday’s presidential election, surpassing the 2012 record when 32.3 million people exercised their franchise in advance. Michael McDonald, an early-voting expert who runs the Elections Project, said many states have either already set records for early voting or exceeded their 2012 turnout. Texas, for instance, was up 36 per cent from four years ago.

Because of the contentious nature of the two campaigns, voters have become familiar with the positions of Republican nominee Donald Trump and his Democrat rival Hillary Clinton and they think that they are ready to take a decision on it. Nationwide, 29.7 per cent of all votes were cast before Election Day in 2008. Four years later, that increased to 31.6 per cent. Projections put the percentage of early voters for this election at potentially higher than 35 per cent.

“People have been very attentive to this election. They know the candidates and they have weighed those candidates, and they are now making their choice. It’s becoming evident that people are voting at higher rates early because they have that large amount of information and they’re confident making their choice,” he said.

McDonald said despite surprises, there appears more stability in the early vote than volatility.

“I suspect that most people have made up their minds about the candidates and the media frenzy is another piece of information to be thrown on the heap of what we already know about the candidates,” he said.

“I do not equate sexual assault with mishandling of classified information, but it strikes me that the cognitive task before voters is similar. In both cases, voters have a mountain of evidence already placed before them,” he said.

“One more woman making an accusation against Trump will not change voters’ assessments of the veracity of the totality of the allegations. Similarly, possibly finding new Clinton-related emails — without any further evidence that they are relevant — does not change voters’ assessments of Clinton on this issue,” McDonald added.