WASHINGTON (Reuters) — More than 60 million Americans have cast ballots in the U.S. presidential election with eight days to go, a record-breaking pace that could lead to the highest voter turnout in over a century, according to data from the U.S. Elections Project on Monday.
The tally is the latest sign of intense interest in the contest between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, as well as voters' desire to reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19, which has killed about 225,000 people across the United States.
Democrats hold a significant advantage in early voting due to their embrace of mail balloting, which Republicans have historically cast in large numbers but have shunned amid repeated and unfounded attacks by Trump who says the system is prone to widespread fraud.
Overall, Democrats hold roughly a two-to-one advantage in early voting numbers.
The high level of early voting has led Michael McDonald, the University of Florida professor who administers the U.S. Elections Project, to predict a record U.S. voter turnout of about 150 million, representing 65% of those eligible to vote, the highest rate since 1908.
U.S. voters have already cast more early votes during this presidential campaign than they did in all of 2016 when they passed the 47 million mark earlier this month, data shows.
Increased mail-in voting, COVID-19, and a variety of state-by-state election formats contribute to a unique 2020 election. As a result, it is likely that many close House and Senate races, as well as the presidency, will not be called on Nov. 3. States may also shift in outcome in the days or weeks following the election — an expected change experts have warned about as results are returned. While human error happens, both mail-in and in-person voting have extremely low rates of fraud. The state of Utah has used vote-by-mail since 2012. It has safeguards in place to make sure every ballot it receives is legitimate.
(Reporting by Jarett Renshaw; Additional reporting by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bernadette Baum)
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