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New SPLC Analysis: With 28 Million Outstanding Mail-in Ballots, Voters Should Return Absentee Ballots Directly to Drop Boxes or Election Officials

With slow USPS delivery times and hostile court decisions, voters should use official dropboxes, drop ballots off at their election offices or polling places, or choose in-person voting options for remainder of election season

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A new analysis released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) finds that while over 70 million people have already voted in the 2020 election, both by mail and early in-person voting, another 28 million people have an outstanding mail ballot that they have not returned.

Amidst a series of court decisions threatening to throw out ballots arriving after November 3 in the mail and corresponding USPS delays, there is the potential for hundreds of thousands to millions of ballots arriving late and being thrown out.

“In these final few days of the 2020 election season, we’re urging voters to avoid potential USPS mailing delays and instead submit their absentee ballots through official drop boxes where available or to election offices. Voters can also change their choice of voting method to in-person as is their right,” said Seth Levi, Chief Strategy Officer for the SPLC. “Voters who have already returned their ballot should check to confirm it was received. If it hasn’t been received by Election Day, they can still vote in-person.”

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 at least two additional updates of this kind before polls close November 3.

ADDITIONAL NATIONAL HIGHLIGHTS:

●    As of October 30th, over 70 million people have already voted in the 2020 election, both by mail and early in-person voting. Another 28 million people have an outstanding mail ballot. The number of people who have already voted or requested a ballot represents 72.2% of the total votes cast in the 2016 general election. The number of people who have already voted (not including outstanding ballots) represents 51.6% of the 2016 total vote.
●    Using modeled partisanship combined with party affiliation where it’s available, we can estimate that Democrats hold an 18.2% advantage over Republicans in mail ballots cast (down from 18.9% on 10/28). However, Republicans hold a 1.3% advantage in early in-person votes (up from 1.0% on 10/28). Democrats still have many more mail ballots outstanding by a margin of 14.5% (no change from 10/28).  
●    Young voters’ share of votes cast continues to rise. Voters aged 18-29 now make up 10.5% of mail ballots cast, (up from 10.1% on 10/28) and 11.1% of early in-person votes (up from 10.8% on 10/28). This trend has been consistent day-to-day for the last two weeks. 
●    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 13.6% of early in-person votes (down slightly from 13.8% on 10/28). 
●    Latinx voters continue to make more use of voting by mail than early in-person voting. Latinx voters currently represent 9.7% of mail ballots cast (up from 9.5% on 10/28) and 8.3% of early in-person votes (down slightly from 8.4% on 10/28). 
●    The steady increase in vote share of first time voters has continued. 6.8% of mail ballots cast are from first time voters (up from 6.5% on 10/28) and 6.5% of early in-person votes (up from 6.3% on 10/28).

KEY STATE HIGHLIGHTS:

Florida
●    4,008,398 voters in Florida have cast their ballots by mail and 2,762,744 have voted early in-person. Another 1,489,009 have an outstanding mail ballot. The total number of votes cast in Florida so far (both by mail EIP) is 71.9% of the votes cast in Florida in the 2016 general election. 
●    Democrats are outpacing Republicans in mail ballots cast by 15.4% (down from 15.9% on 10/28). However, Republicans currently hold a 12.5% advantage in early in-person votes (up from 11.9% on 10/28). Democrats still have more outstanding mail ballots than Republicans by a margin of 9.5% (up from 8.8% on 10/28). This is based on official party registration, not modeled partisanship. 
●    Latinx voters’ vote share in Florida continues to trend up, even if just slightly. They currently make up 15.0% of mail ballots cast (up slightly from 14.9% on 10/28) and 17.0% of early in-person votes (no change from 10/28).
●    Black voters continue to over-index among early in-person votes compared to their share of registered voters. Black voters make up 14.8% of early in-person voters despite being just 14.2% of registered voters. Black voters also represent 11.5% of mail ballots cast (up slightly from 11.4% on 10/28). 

Pennsylvania
●    1,896,772 voters in Pennsylvania have cast their mail ballots with another 1,030,976 voters having an outstanding ballot. 
●    Democrats continue to hold a large lead over Republicans in mail ballots cast, with a margin of 47.5% (down from 48.1% on 10/28). Democrats also hold many more outstanding mail ballots than Republicans by a margin of 20.7% (down from 22.4% on 10/28). This is based on official party registration, not modeled partisanship.
●    Black voters in Pennsylvania make up 11.5% of mail ballots cast (down from 11.8% on 10/28) despite being just 11.8% of registered voters in Pennsylvania. 
●    White college-educated voters make up 43.6% of mail ballots cast by white voters (no change from 10/28). White non-college voters make up 44.5% of mail ballots cast by white voters (down slightly from 44.6% on 10/28). Both of these rates remain very stable with little movement day-to-day. 

Michigan
●    2,252,250 voters in Michigan have cast their ballots by mail with another 103,297 having voted early in-person. 803,337 more voters have an outstanding mail ballot. 
●    Black voters make up 11.9% of mail ballots cast. This rate remains very stable, not changing since 10/21.
●     White college-educated voters in Michigan make up 40.7% of mail ballots cast by white voters (no change from 10/28). White non-college voters make up 50.2% of mail ballots cast by white voters (down slightly from 50.3% on 10/28).
●    Michigan continues to have fewer first time voters than the national average, though it has continued to increase in recent days. As of today, 4.4% of mail ballots cast in Michigan have come from first time voters (up slightly from 4.2% on 10/28). And while there aren’t many early in-person votes in Michigan overall, 6.8% of those have been cast by first time voters (up from 6.5% on 10/28). 

Wisconsin
●    1,063,432 voters in Wisconsin have cast their mail ballots and 383,071 have voted early in person. Another 270,885 have outstanding mail ballots. 
●    Young voters (aged 18-29) currently 8.6% of mail ballots cast (up from 8.4% on 10/28) and 5.3% of early in-person votes (up from 4.6% on 10/28). 
●    Women are still outpacing men in mail ballots cast by a wide margin (13.8%) despite having only a 5.6% registration advantage. However that gap shrinks considerably among early in-person votes, where women hold just a 2.5% advantage.
●    Black voters continue to make use of Wisconsin’s early in-person voting at high rates. Black voters currently make up 5.6% of early in-person votes and are 5.7% of all registered voters in Wisconsin. 

Nevada
●    470,456 voters in Nevada have cast their mail ballots and another 377,151 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 20.1% (down from 21.7% on 10/28). Among early in-person votes, Republicans continue to hold an advantage over Democrats by 14.7% (up from 13.7% on 10/28). This is based on official party registration, not modeled partisanship. 
●    Nevada continues to have a high number of first time voters. 13.3% of mail ballots cast have come from first time voters (up from 13.0% on 10/28), which is well ahead of the 6.8% national average. Among early in-person voters, 9.3% have come from first time voters (up from 9.0% on 10/28), compared to 6.5% nationally. 
●    Latinx voters’ share of mail ballots cast is 12.9% (up slightly from 12.8% on 10/28) and 14.1% of early in-person votes (up slightly from 14.0% on 10/28). 
●    Black voters’ share of mail ballots cast is 9.1% (up slightly from 9.0% on 10/28) and 8.8% of early in-person votes (down slightly from 8.9% on 10/28). 

Georgia
●    1,050,630 voters in Georgia have cast their mail ballots and 2,098,101 have voted early in-person. Another 447,724 voters have outstanding mail ballots. The total number of ballots cast (both by mail and EIP) represents 76.5% of  the total votes cast in Georgia in the 2016 general election. 
●    Modeled Democrats hold a 4.5% advantage over modeled Republicans in mail ballots cast (down from 4.7% on 10/28). Modeled Republicans hold a 13.9% advantage in early in-person votes (up from 13.1% on 10/28). 
●    Black voters currently make up 33.3% of mail ballots cast (down slightly from 33.4% on 10/28) and 29.8% of early in-person votes (down from 30.3% on 10/28), which is keeping pace with share of registered voters (33.6%).
●    Young voters’ vote share in Georgia continues to trend up. Voters aged 18-29 make up 9.1% of mail ballots cast (up from 8.7% on 10/28) and 12.8% of early in-person votes (up from 12.4% on 10/28). 
●    Young Latinx voters are continuing to turn out at higher rates than young voters in the state overall. Latinx voters under 40 are 37.1% of mail ballots cast by Latinx voters, compared to 17.8% among all voters under 40. Latinx voters under 40 are 46.4% of early in-person votes by Latinx voters, compared to 26.7% among all voters under 40. 

North Carolina
●    836,302 voters in North Carolina have cast their ballot by mail and 2,904,083 have voted early in-person. The number of people voting early in-person continues to climb dramatically between each report (646,281 new EIP votes since 10/26).
●    Democrats currently have a 26.8% advantage over Republicans in mail ballots cast (down from 28.2 on 10/26) and a 2.2% advantage in early in-person votes (down from 4.9% on 10/26). This is based on official party registration, not modeled partisanship.
●    Black voters continue to over-index among early in-person voters, making up 23.1% of votes (down from 24.2% on 10/26) compared to 23.1% of registered voters in North Carolina. Black voters represent 17.0% of mail ballots cast.

Iowa
●    603,112 votes in Iowa have cast their ballots by mail with another 195,371 having voted early in-person. 100,387 voters have outstanding mail ballots. 
●     Democrats currently hold a 22.7% advantage over Republicans in mail ballots cast (down from 23.3% on 10/28). However, Republicans hold a 1.8% advantage over Democrats in early in-person voters (up from 0.5% on 10/28). This is based on official party registration, not modeled partisanship.
●    College-educated white voters make up 39.4% of mail ballots cast by white voters (a number that has been unchanged since 10/21) and 40.1% of mail ballots cast by white voters (down from 40.3% on 10/28).

Arizona
●    1,935,663 voters in Arizona have cast their ballots by mail with another 1,182,178 voters having an outstanding ballot.
●    Democrats currently have a 3.5% advantage over Republicans in mail ballots cast (down from 4.8% on 10/28). Republicans currently have more outstanding ballots than Democrats by a margin of 5.5% (down from 6.0% on 10/28). 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 has continued to trend up, currently making up 14.6% of mail ballots cast (up from 14.4% on 10/28). 
●    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 9.6% on 10/28 to 10.2% as of today.

Maine
●    291,815 voters in Maine have cast ballots by mail and another 105,549 have voted early in-person. 59,534 voters have outstanding mail ballots. 
●    Democrats currently hold a 33.8% advantage over Republicans in mail ballots cast (down from 34.6% on 10/28) and a 13.2% advantage in early in-person votes (down from 14.6% on 10/28). This is using official party registration, not modeled partisanship.
●    College-educated white voters make up 40.1% of mail ballots cast by white voters (down slightly from 40.2% on 10/28) and 38.5% of early in-person votes (down from 38.8% on 10/28).

Read the full report here: https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/bluelabs_avev_memo_10302020.pdf