2020 early voting has already reached 71% of 2016's total turnout

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Saturday had already reached 71% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

2020 early voting has already reached 71% of 2016's total turnout

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Saturday had already reached 71% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.


By the numbers: Both Hawaii (110.6%) and Texas (107.7%) have already surpassed 2016's total turnout via early voting. The latter has morphed into a key swing state that could allow Joe Biden to land a knockout blow on President Trump's re-election chances.

Other states that have already amassed a huge portion of their 2016 totals include:

  • Montana: 99.1%
  • Washington: 97.9%
  • New Mexico: 97.3%
  • Georgia: 93.9%
  • North Carolina: 95.4%
  • Tennessee: 89.6%
  • Nevada: 96.7%
  • Oregon: 95.8%
  • Florida: 93.7%
  • Arizona: 92.9%
  • Colorado: 88.2%

The other side: Some key battleground states are lagging behind the frontrunners. Pennsylvania, for example, has only reached 39.2% of its 2016 total turnout — but this is the first general election for which the state has implemented no-excuse absentee balloting. Historically, only about 5% of Pennsylvanians have voted by mail.

Other key battlegrounds and their current early turnout against 2016 totals:

  • Wisconsin: 63.4%
  • Iowa: 60.5%
  • Michigan 58.3%
  • Ohio: 51.8%

Worth noting: Mail-in ballots face deadlines. While some states only require that ballots be postmarked by or shortly before Election Day, others require ballots to be received by election officials on Tuesday.

  • Swing states Florida and Wisconsin, for example, require mail-in ballots to be received by 7 and 8 p.m., respectively, on Election Day.
  • But the Supreme Court recently shut down Republican attempts to trim mail-in deadlines in both North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
  • Many states also can't begin counting their mail-in ballots until Election Day, which is likely to cause a backlog in results — and could shift results in Biden's favor as more get counted in the following days.

Between the lines: Experts say it is essentially impossible to read anything into 2020's unprecedented turnout at the current moment.

  • While high-turnout elections traditionally favor Democrats, the pandemic's effects have caused traditional models to be cast aside — making it difficult to draw any conclusions about the possible outcome of the election from these historic numbers.

Go deeper: When and how to vote in all 50 states

Note: The turnout figures cited in this article were last updated at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 2.