Election Update: Voter turnout promises to hit historic high

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Welcome to your daily update leading up to the US presidential election on November 3rd. With six days to go, we look at an early emergence whose scale continues to amaze, court decisions on signature analysis and the near-mythical shy voter.

Emerging Emerging

The early voter turnout figures continue to be surprising, even with the knowledge that a flight was expected there due to the pandemic. Almost 74 million voters have already cast a vote, let the tracker from the US Election Project Wednesday afternoon.

That is more than half (54 percent) of the total votes cast in the 2016 election.

When you take into account that about half of Americans in polls have expressed their wish to vote early, and there is almost a week to go, it looks like the US is heading for a historically high voter turnout. In the eighteen states where this is recorded, at least some 30 million ballots are still outstanding for voting by mail.

In 20 states that report whether a voter has ever joined a party, 47.7 percent of the votes to date have been cast by Democrats, 29.3 percent by Republicans, and 22.4 percent by non-registered voters. Among voters who did not vote by mail, but who were able to reach a polling station early (in ten states), the differences are smaller: 41.6 percent were Republicans and 38.8 percent Democrats.

A polling station in Coral Gables, Florida. (Photo: ANP)

A federal judge in South Carolina ordered local election officials Tuesday to stop analyzing signatures on ballot papers. A non-partisan political organization, The League of Woman Voters of South Carolina, had filed a lawsuit for rejecting notes in at least nine of the state’s 46 counties.

Comparing a voter’s signature on a ballot paper with that on the electoral roll is controversial because it is not an exact science. Experts say a person’s signature can be influenced by numerous factors – from the writer’s state of mind, to the surface on which the signature takes place.

The verdict does not make much difference to the national balance. President Donald Trump has one in the polls comfortable lead on Joe Biden in South Carolina. But there may be consequences for another race: that for Republican Lindsey Graham’s senate seat. His fight with Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison seems to be getting more exciting.

Judicial skepticism about graphology (signature analysis) in South Carolina is shared by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The Chief Justices decided late last week that ballots should not be rejected because the signatures do not match. That could have more impact: Pennsylvania is a major swing state, where Trump won by less than 45,000 votes in 2016.

At least some voters aren’t shy about their preference. (Photo: ANP)

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