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SPLC: 34 million requested ballots haven’t been returned yet

Outstanding ballots in Florida 1.9 million and 576,000 in Georgia
Mail-in vote file photo.
Mail-in vote file photo.(Pixabay)
Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 9:40 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Press Release) – A new analysis released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) finds that with just eight days to go before the 2020 General Election, at least 34 million Americans have not yet mailed in their ballots.

As of today in states that publish absentee and early vote data, more than 55 million people have already voted by mail or early in-person; 34 million ballots requested by mail are outstanding.

Although turnout among young voters is on the rise, that age group continues to lag in returning mail ballots and voting early in-person. Voters aged 18-29 make up 17.5% of registered voters, 9.6% of mail ballots cast (up from 9.0% on 10/23), and 10.2% of early in-person votes (up from 9.4% on 10/23). Conversely, voters 65 and older make up 24.3% of registered voters but 43.2% of mail ballots cast (down from 44.5% on 10/23) and 34.1% of early in-person votes (down from 36.4% on 10/21).

“It’s encouraging to see that millions of people have already exercised their right to vote, but there are a worrying number of mail ballots still outstanding,” said Seth Levi, Chief Strategy Officer for the SPLC. “While older voters continue to take advantage of absentee and early voting options, we need to see the same level of enthusiasm from younger and first-time voters. We are just eight days away from Election Day. Those who have not returned their absentee ballot should strongly consider taking it to a drop box instead of sending it through the mail to ensure it arrives in time to be counted.”The analysis is a part of an ongoing data tracking and reporting project between BlueLabs Analytics and the SPLC to track requested and returned absentee ballots as well as early voting in the states that report these numbers. These numbers will be essential reference points as Election Night results begin to be reported, and the SPLC, allied groups, and election observers strive to ensure enough votes have been counted for an appropriate call to be made at presidential and statewide levels. Read the full report here.

Currently, the SPLC projects regular updates on absentee and early voting trends and analysis two to three times a week before November 3.

ADDITIONAL NATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS:

  • As of October 26th, just over 55 million people have already voted in the 2020 election, both by mail and early in-person voting. Another 34 million people have an outstanding mail ballot. The number of people who have already voted or requested a ballot represents about 65% of the total votes cast in the 2016 general election.
  • Using modeled partisanship combined with party affiliation where it’s available, we can estimate that Democrats hold a 19.4% advantage over Republicans in mail ballots cast (down from 20.1% on 10/23). However, Republicans hold a 1.3% advantage in early in-person votes (up from 10/23 when Democrats held a 1.2% advantage). Democrats still have many more outstanding mail ballots than Republicans by a margin of 14.9% (no change from 10/23).
  • Young voters' share of votes cast so far continues to rise. Voters 18-29 now make up 9.6% of mail ballots cast (up from 9.0% on 10/23) and 10.2% of early in-person votes (up from 9.4% on 10/23). The vote share of the oldest voters, those 65 and up, has seen a corresponding decrease in the last few days. Voters 65+ now make up 43.2% of mail ballots cast (down from 44.5% on 10/23) and 34.1% of early in-person votes (down from 36.4% on 10/21).
  • Black voters continue to turn out at high rates for early in-person voting. Black voters are just 14.3% of registered voters nationally, but make up 13.9% of early in-person voters.
  • There has been an increase in vote share for first-time voters in the last week. First-time voters are now 6.2% of mail ballots cast (up from 4.9% one week ago).

KEY STATE HIGHLIGHTS:

Florida

  • 3,660,248 voters in Florida have cast their ballots by mail and 1,945,020 have voted early in-person. Another 1,957,236 voters have outstanding mail ballots. Each of those numbers represents a large change from 10/23 (496,403 new mail ballots cast, 907,067 new early in-person votes, and 590,607 fewer outstanding ballots). The total number of votes cast in Florida so far (both my mail and EIP) is 59.5% of the total votes cast in Florida in the 2016 general election.
  • Democrats are outpacing Republicans in mail ballots cast by 16.2% (down from 17.5% on 10/23). However, Republicans currently hold an 11.0% advantage in early in-person votes (up from 8.1% on 10/23). Democrats still have more outstanding mail ballots than Republicans by a margin of 8.7%. This is based on official party registration, not modeled partisanship.
  • Latinx voters' vote share in Florida continues to trend up. They currently make up 14.7% of mail ballots cast (up from 14.2% on 10/23) and 16.6% of early in-person votes (up from 15.5% on 10/23).
  • Black voters continue to over-index among early in-person votes compared to their share of registered voters. Black voters make up 15.2% of early in-person voters despite being just 14.1% of registered voters. They also make up 11.4% of mail ballots cast (no change from 10/23).

Pennsylvania

  • 1,387,083 voters in Pennsylvania have cast their mail ballots with another 1,416,738 having outstanding ballots.
  • While Democrats still hold a large lead over Republicans in mail ballots cast, it has continued to trend down slightly each day. Currently, the Democratic margin is 51.1% which is down from 58.3% at this time last week. This is based on official party registration, not modeled partisanship.
  • Black voters in Pennsylvania are still overperforming their registration rates. Black voters make up 11.8% of registered voters in the state but currently represent 12.2% of mail ballots cast. As with Democratic vote share, this number has also trended down in recent days (from 14.1% on 10/21).
  • White college-educated voters make up 43.5% of mail ballots cast by white voters (down slightly from 43.7% on 10/23). White non-college voters make up 44.8% of mail ballots cast by white voters (up slightly from 44.7% on 10/23).

Michigan

  • 1,938,785 voters in Michigan have cast their ballots by mail with another 63,619 having voted early in-person. 1,054,220 people have outstanding mail ballots.
  • Black voters make up 11.9% of mail ballots cast. This number has been very stable, not changing since 10/21.
  • White college-educated voters in Michigan make up 40.6% of mail ballots cast by white voters (down slightly from 40.7% on 10/23). White non-college voters make up 50.4% of mail ballots cast by white voters, meaning white non-college voters are outpacing white college-educated voters by 9.8%. However, white non-college voters have a 19.9% registration advantage in Michigan.
  • Michigan has very few first-time voters compared to the national average. Just 3.8% of mail ballots cast in Michigan are from first-time voters, compared to 6.2% nationally.

Wisconsin

  • 992,595 voters in Wisconsin have cast their mail ballots and 267,451 have voted early in-person. Another 342,153 voters have outstanding mail ballots. The number of early in-person voters in Wisconsin has almost doubled since our last report on 10/23 (124,503 new EIP votes cast).
  • Young voters (aged 18-29) have increased their share of early in-person votes somewhat since our last report, from 3.5% on 10/23 to 4.6% as of today. Their share of mail ballots cast has also increased slightly from 8.2% on 10/23 to 8.4% today. This is consistent with the national trend we are seeing of youth vote share increasing.
  • Women are still outpacing men in mail ballots cast by a wide margin (13.9%) despite having only a 5.6% registration advantage. However, that gap shrinks considerably among early in-person votes where women hold just a 2.6% advantage. That margin has tightened since 10/23 when women held a 3.2% margin.
  • Black voters are making use of Wisconsin’s early in-person voting at a rate that is close to their total registration rates. Black voters make up 5.3% of early in-person votes and are 5.7% of registered voters.

Nevada

  • 426,552 voters in Nevada have cast their ballots by mail and another 249,392 have voted early in-person. The state of Nevada sent mail ballots to all registered voters this year, so there is no data about ballot requests to report.
  • Democrats are currently outpacing Republicans by 18.0% in mail ballots cast (down from 25.5% on 10/23). In early in-person votes, however, Republicans currently hold an 11.7% advantage (up from 9.2% on 10/23). This is based on official party registration, not modeled partisanship.
  • Nevada continues to have a high number of first-time voters. 12.2% of mail ballots have come from first-time voters (down slightly from 12.3% on 10/23), which is well ahead of the 6.2% national average.
  • Latinx voters share of mail ballots cast is currently 11.9% (down from 12.1% on 10/23) and 14.3% of early in-person votes (up from 13.3% on 10/23).
  • Black voters' share of mail ballots is currently 8.2% (down from 9.1% on 10/23) and 9.9% of early in-person votes (up from 9.6% on 10/23).

Georgia

  • 942,129 voters in Georgia have cast their mail ballots and 1,725,609 have voted early in-person. Another 576,335 have outstanding mail ballots. These numbers represent a large shift from our last report on 10/23 (180,157 new mail ballots cast, 594,789 new EIP votes, and 205,289 fewer outstanding ballots). The total number of ballots cast (both by mail and EIP) represents 64.8% of all votes cast in Georgia in the 2016 general election.
  • Modeled Democrats hold a 4.7% advantage over modeled Republicans in mail ballots cast (down from 5.7% on 10/23). Modeled Republicans, however, hold a 12.9% advantage in early in-person votes (up from 9.6% on 10/23).
  • Black voters make up 33.4% of mail ballots cast (down slightly from 33.9% on 10/23) and 30.3% of early in-person votes (down from 31.8% on 10/23), keeping pace with their share of registered voters.
  • Young voters' share of the electorate has been trending up in Georgia. Voters aged 18-29 make up 8.2% of mail ballots cast (up from 6.9% on 10/23) and 11.9% of early in-person voters (up from 10.0% on 10/23).

North Carolina

  • 760,312 voters in North Carolina have cast their ballot by mail and 2,257,802 people have voted early in-person. The number of people voting early in-person continues to climb dramatically between each report (556,113 new EIP votes since 10/23). The total number of votes cast so far (both by mail and EIP) represents 63.7% of the total votes cast in North Carolina in the 2016 general election.
  • Democrats currently have a 28.2% advantage over Republicans in mail ballots cast (down from 29.9% on 10/23) and a 4.9% advantage in early in-person votes (down from 8.2% on 10/23). These numbers have continued to trend downward in recent days. This is based on official party registration, not modeled partisanship.
  • Black voters continue to over-index among early in-person voters, making up 24.2% of votes (down from 25.6% on 10/23) compared to 23.1% of registered voters. Among mail ballots cast, Black voters represent 17.1% of votes cast (down slightly from 17.3% on 10/23).
  • Vote share among first-time voters has continued to trend up. As of today, 8.9% of mail ballots cast are from first-time voters, compared to 7.8% this time last week.

Arizona

  • 1,421,563 voters in Arizona have cast their ballots by mail with another 1,665,056 having an outstanding mail ballot.
  • Democrats currently have an 8.0% advantage over Republicans in mail ballots cast (down from 9.5% on 10/23). Republicans currently have more outstanding ballots than Democrats, by a margin of 6.5% (up from 6.2% on 10/23). Arizona is one of the only battleground states where Republicans have more outstanding ballots than Democrats. This is using official party registration, not modeled partisanship.
  • Latinx voters' share of mail ballots cast continues to trend up, currently making up 14.3% of mail ballots cast (up from 14.0% on 10/23).
  • Young voters' share of mail ballots cast has also continued to increase in Arizona. The share of mail ballots cast by voters aged 18-29 has increased from 8.5% on 10/23 to 8.7% today.

Maine

  • 251,634 voters in Maine have cast ballots by mail and another 78,309 have voted early in-person. 92,605 voters have outstanding mail ballots.
  • Democrats currently hold a 36.2% advantage over Republicans in mail ballots cast (down from 38.0% on 10/23) and an 18.2% advantage in early in-person votes (down from 21.6% on 10/23). This is using official party registration, not modeled partisanship.
  • College-educated white voters make up 40.4% of mail ballots cast by white voters (down slightly from 40.7% on 10/23) and 39.2% of early in-person white voters (down slightly from 40.1% on 10/23).

In addition to analyzing voter trends, SPLC - in partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta - is supporting voter registration and mobilization efforts in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi this election cycle through the Vote Your Voice initiative.

SPLC is investing up to $30 million from its endowment in nonpartisan, nonprofit voter outreach organizations across the Deep South to increase voter registration and participation among people of color.

The Vote Your Voice campaign seeks to: empower communities of color by aiding them in their fight against voter suppression; support Black- and brown-led voter outreach organizations often ignored by traditional funders; support and prototype effective voter engagement strategies; and re-enfranchise returning citizens despite intentional bureaucratic challenges.