Nearly 160 million Americans voted in the 2020 election, by far the most in history and a turnout not seen in over a century. This marks an exceptional milestone in civic engagement in a year marked by a devastating pandemic, record unemployment and political unrest.
After all but three states had completed their final census and the deadline for final certification of results was approaching next week, the number of Americans who actually voted in November was eye-opening: 66.7 percent of the eligible population, according to the US Election Project, a bipartisan website run by Michael McDonald, a University of Florida professor who tracks data at the county level.
It is the highest percentage since 1900, when the electoral pool was much smaller, slightly surpassing two modern high water marks: the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy and the 2008 election of Barack Obama. Since the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920, the When women had the right to vote and the number of voters roughly doubled, turnout had risen 64 percent never exceeded.
The postponements that led to this year’s surge in votes, particularly the widespread expansion of voting options and the extended deadline for voting, could forever change elections and political campaigns in America and provide a glimpse into the future of elections.
However, a game from the right could prevent this. In many ways, it is the surge in votes that Mr Trump and the Republican Party are now openly campaigning to undo his clear loss to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. – whose lead rose to seven million on Friday. Republicans have portrayed the burgeoning voting ranks as shameful and expanded access to voting options ripe for fraud – despite the fact that record turnouts brought them numerous electoral victories.
Although Mr Trump and the party have failed to prove a single fraud suit in court – where they and their allies have lost or withdrawn dozen of cases – state-level Republicans vow to put in a new round of voting restrictions, which they prevent claim – without evidence – is widespread fraud.
The surge in votes this year was due to a polarizing presidential race and the many steps election officials have taken to make voting safer, and therefore easier, during the coronavirus pandemic. Indeed after a recent poll from the Pew Research Center94 percent of voters said it would be “easy” to vote in the November elections.
This ease of voting could also be read as “access”. The expansion of postal voting, early voting, online registration, and online voting requests have removed many of the traditional barriers that sometimes kept people off the ballot box. Others simply used long-standing laws to pass judgment on Mr. Trump’s four tumultuous years in office.
The expansion of voting options also resulted in an “election season” in the fall, rather than a single election day. This change is likely to continue, forcing political campaigns to restructure autumn operations, with a more emphasis on voting over a period of weeks.
“We opened the doors to access,” said Adrian Fontes, the senior electoral officer in Maricopa County, the largest county in Arizona where for the first time more than 80 percent of the eligible voters elected in the general election. It also switched from Republican to Democratic for the first time in 72 years.
“I think the most telling number is the 165,000 personal voters on election day,” Fontes said of the turnout in Maricopa County. “When more than two million people cast a ballot and fewer than 200,000 of them actually walk in and cast a new ballot on election day, that’s important.”
In interviews, election officials have tempered their enthusiasm for this year’s turnout by recognizing several factors for 2020 only. Mr Trump is a unique public figure who has drawn significant personal hostility from the voters against him. It ran at a time of extreme economic and social upheaval due to the pandemic. And lockdown orders, as well as mass vacations and layoffs, gave Americans more time to consume news – both on the internet and the old-fashioned network news, which had its highest viewership in more than a decade – and increased their commitment to the elections.
“Voters really thought about how they would vote and many had a plan and implemented that plan,” said Kim Wyman, the Washington Secretary of State.
Although campaign experts warn against viewing the expansion of postal voting as the sole driver of voter turnout, it is clear that states that have implemented increased postal voting or a full postal voting system had the highest turnout. States that did not offer comprehensive options for voting by email were at the lower end of the scale.
Hawaii, for example, had the lowest voter turnout in 2012 and 2016. However, last year a universal voting system via email was passed and last month saw the highest increase in votes in the country. There, the number of early votes rose by almost 111 percent compared to 2016, and the state’s turnout of 57.5 percent rose by more than a third overall.
Other states that encouraged voters to use existing mail options also saw their records surge. In Minnesota, which had the highest voter turnout in the country at 79.96 percent, electoral officials sent ballot requests to every registered voter and ran a $ 830,000 voter education program to explain the options already on the books.
“There hasn’t been a big legal shift in the legal field or a new voting method that wasn’t on the books before,” said Steve Simon, Minnesota secretary of state. “This was a highlight and presentation of an option that had been around for a long time.”
In a way, the pandemic brought a long-cherished dream of voting proxies to life. For decades, they have tried to increase voter turnout by facilitating voting through provisions such as voting day registration, early voting, and postal voting.
Their goal was to help the country overcome a persistent national problem: for most of the past century, fewer than 60 percent of the electorate voted in national elections, and in a few years the turnout in the United States was far lower of the states well below that of most industrialized countries.
Democrats have broadly supported efforts to increase voter turnout. Polls and population Data have repeatedly shown that the voters hardest hit by the difficulties of voting in person on election day – temporary workers, people who move frequently, or low-paid single parents who can’t wait long for Tuesday elections – traditionally vote more for Democrats than for Republicans.
Similar, Polling and census Data shows that black Americans, Hispanics, and young people – key elements of the Democratic coalition – are more likely to be non-voters than older white people, a majority of whom regularly vote for Republican presidential candidates.
For example, the introduction of same-day registration and early voting contributed to an increase in the turnout of black voters in North Carolina 2008 helped Obama become the first Democrat to win there since 1976. Republicans in state houses there and elsewhere have spent the years imposing new voting restrictions. sometimes contrary to the courts.
In Harris County, home of Houston and 4.7 million people, election officials opened transit polling stations across the county to help them vote safely during a pandemic. More than 130,000 voters took advantage of the option. District officials also created several 24-hour polling stations for shift workers, and around 10,000 voters used them to cast their ballots.
“A good number of them told us they didn’t vote differently, that would allow them to vote,” said Chris Hollins, Harris County clerk.
Voting advocates have long viewed email voting as an important tool against low turnout, but only with changes that would make it easier without compromising security. In many countries, postal voting is subject to certain conditions, such as: B. Requirements for excuses, or even witness signatures Authentication.
Colorado, Utah, Washington state, Oregon, and Hawaii have moved to near-universal mail-in voting systems and increased their turnout rates without significant Cases of fraud or irregularities.
“When we see postal votes spike in a state, voter turnout rises at the same time,” said Amber McReynolds, executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute and architect of the Colorado postal voting system. “It’s about making the process more accessible.”
Mr McDonald, the professor, said the wider adoption of postal voting could have a significant impact on voting elections, which traditionally have a lower turnout. High-propensity voters would be more likely to vote in municipal, municipal, or off-year elections when a ballot kicked in their homes.
Almost as soon as the coronavirus spread across the United States, Democrats pushed for a simpler postal voting rule, arguing, for example, that obtaining witness signatures could be difficult during a pandemic, especially for vulnerable elderly voters who live alone.
Democrats in Congress attempted a similar push at the national level, but met fierce opposition from Mr Trump, who gave a rare public voice to the idea that Republicans do not want to facilitate the vote as it makes it difficult for them to win would. “You had things – voting levels that if you ever agreed, you’d never get a Republican elected in this country again.” he said March.
Indeed, Mr Trump’s logic – that increased postal voting would automatically help Democrats – proved flawed. Several academic studies have found that mail voting does not necessarily give one party an advantage over another. In Georgia, for example, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican said that Mr Trump would have won his state if he hadn’t stopped his own voters from using postal ballot papers.
Georgia, which had elected a Democrat president for the first time in nearly 30 years, had a turnout of 67 percent.
Of course, even as the obstacles to voting were removed and there was widespread electoral education in newspapers, cable news, and social media, some political activists saw the expansion of voting as a result of the unique force that American politics has had over the past four years dominated.
“Two words,” said Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager in 2016, in an email. “DONALD TRUMP.”