Early voting has begun in more than 20 states ahead of the November 3 presidential election, and turnout has already far exceeded previous races. High early turnout is leading election experts to predict that a record 150 million votes may be cast this year and turnout rates could be higher than in any U.S. presidential election since 1908.
But massive early voter turnout, in part fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, has also led to new challenges, as long lines and waits of hours were reported at polling centers in various states.
In the state of Georgia, where the polls opened on October 12, some voters waited more than eight hours to cast their vote, according to local media.
“Long lines do not happen by accident but by design,” the National Electoral Defense Coalition tweeted.
In Ohio, where early voting began on October 6, the number of people who cast their ballots in person during the first week of early voting nearly tripled compared to 2016. Some 193,021 voters went to the polls compared to 64,312 ago. four years.
Ohio state officials have explained the long lines with high enthusiasm among the electorate. But a 2006 state law that limit voting sites early in person to one per county it also contributed to the long lines, noted former President Barack Obama’s speechwriter David Litt, quoted by The Guardian newspaper.
“Blaming voters for the long lines they stand ignores the huge and intentional disparity in resources between the most and least populated parts of the state,” Litt wrote.