With less than a week before Election Day, more than 29 million people had already voted in-person or via mail-in ballots, the United States Elections Project data showed Wednesday. According to Gallup, early voting in this election is higher than in any recent midterm.
The pandemic led to historic early voting levels, with over 70% of Americans casting their ballots before Election Day. Although this was due to concern for health and social distancing, many voters are continuing the practice.
In Georgia, where the congressional race’s winner could decide control of the Senate, nearly twice as many people cast ballots on the first day of early voting in 2022 as did in 2018. Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement last week that these numbers indicated less strain on election directors. He also cited shorter lines and no substantial reports of delays.
“Reducing the burden on the counties is crucial for a safe, secure, and accessible election,” said Raffensperger.
A recent study from the Pew Research Center found that 42% of Americans intended to vote in person this year. There was a partisan divide on the issue. Some 54% of Republicans planned to vote in person on Election Day compared to 34% of Democrats. Republicans largely remained skeptical of voting by mail or absentee. Many believed false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 elections and believed it would persist this year. They were also less likely to say they were ‘very confident’ that absentee ballots would be counted as intended.
Some election lawsuits have already been filed. Michigan candidate for Secretary of State Kristina Karamo asked a judge last week to require voters to vote in person or pick up their ballots themselves. This would call into question thousands of Detroit ballots already cast.
Karamo is the GOP nominee who was also endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Trump made several failed attempts to challenge mail-in ballots in the 2020 election, which were largely in favor of the Democratic party.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court recently ordered counties not to count mail-in ballots if voters failed to date the envelopes or dated them incorrectly. Voting rights advocates called the action “undemocratic” and a threat to thousands of Pennsylvanians over a minor error. On Tuesday, the state’s House Republicans were happy to see the decision.
“Dates matter, and the dating of important documents has been a critical tool in officiating the legality of documents for centuries,” House Republicans jointly said in a statement.
However, lawyers from the ACLU cited the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which states that “immaterial errors” cannot be used to reject votes since the date is irrelevant to a voter’s eligibility.