Over 1 million people have already voted in the 2022 general election, according to data analyzed by University of Florida professor Michael McDonald and the United States Election Project.
In an interview on "The Chuck ToddCast," McDonald said that early turnout so far in 2022 was higher than usual for a midterm election, mirroring the rise in the number of Americans choosing to vote early that began in the 2020 presidential election.
“We’re passing the 1 million mark at an earlier point that we could typically see for a midterm election,” said McDonald, who compiles public data on early voting at ElectProject.org.
As of October 13, data from the United States Election Project showed that over 1.4 million Americans had already voted, with the most early votes concentrated in Florida, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
McDonald’s data also shows that more Democrats than Republicans are voting early in 2022, a change from earlier elections in which traditionally more Republicans voted early.
53 percent of early votes are from Democrats, while 31 percent are from Republicans, according to early voting from states who release party registration data.
“Up until 2020 you would have said mail balloting, that benefits Republicans when you look at the data” said McDonald. He said that after 2020 behavioral changes reduced the amount of Republican voters who vote by mail.
As an example of this shift away from Republican mail balloting and early voting, McDonald pointed to Florida, where voting by mail will become more difficult. After the 2022 election, state law will require that voters request a new mail ballot every election cycle, rather than allowing a mail-ballot request to last through two federal general elections.
McDonald said the increases in early voting were tied to changes in state laws that make early and mail voting easier, as well as how voters themselves have changed their behavior after the 2020 election. Because of the threat of Covid-19, more voters chose to cast their ballot early.
“Although a lot of the pandemic is behind us, there are a lot of legacies that will be reverberating through future elections here in the United States,” said McDonald.
McDonald also voiced concerns that because of laws in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Arizona concerning the counting of mail votes, it’s unlikely that election results will be known on Election Night.
McDonald said that 2022 turnout was likely to be on par with 2018 midterm turnout, which was the highest turnout in a midterm election since 1914.
For decades midterm election turnout has lagged behind presidential election turnout, but that’s changed in the past few years, according to McDonald, because of a “nationalization that’s finally taking root in our midterm elections.”
McDonald said that a key turnout indicator to watch would be mail ballot returns in the next weeks.
“If we start seeing their turnout beyond par, or even beat the 2018 turnout, that will be the clue that we’re going to have a really remarkable turnout election.”