This year’s midterm elections have been marked by a record-setting surge in early voting. The latest counts put the total of early voters at somewhere between 36 million and 40 million ballots cast, which vastly outstrips the 22 million early votes cast in 2014. In several states, including Texas, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona, the number of early votes cast exceeded the number of total votes cast in the last midterms.
What’s more, past elections have seen early voting dominated by older people. This year, the number of early voters from 18 to 29 and from 30 to 39 more than doubled. According to Democratic strategist Tom Bonier of TargetSmart, quoted in The Hill, “Voters under the age of 30, relative to their ’14 turnout, are outperforming every other group. It’s not just like a presidential year surge, where you’re getting younger voters who only vote in presidentials coming out in a midterm. A lot of these young people are voting in their first election period.” In Texas alone, 213,000 first-time voters cast early ballots.
The impact of young people voting early can be seen in tight races like those in Georgia, Florida, and Illinois. Florida saw 5 million early and mail voters. And in Georgia, where Democrat Stacey Abrams has not yet conceded to Republican Brian Kemp, TargetSmart says that youth voters “cast nearly 215,000 ballots as of Saturday—a 362 percent increase over the same point in the 2014 election.” As The Nation reported last week, efforts to mobilize early voters helped to fight suppression of voting in the state; as Abrams said last Monday, “We are trying to have won this election before Election Day.”
You’ll find many takes on the role early voting played in yesterday’s election. Kat Calvin of the nonprofit Spread the Vote, speaking to the New York Times, says, “People on both sides are really fired up.”—Jason Schneiderman