About three-quarters of Americans will be able to cast their ballot by mail in the upcoming presidential election, the highest number in history, according to The New York Times.
The Times found that if election turnout projections continue to increase, about 80 million mail ballots will be sent in the fall, more than twice the number in 2016.
“I have a hard time looking back at history and finding an election where there was this significant of a change to how elections are administered in this short a time period,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, the chair of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State.
Every state allows mail-in voting in some capacity, but 24 states and the District of Columbia have expanded mail-in voting efforts in response to the coronavirus pandemic. All registered voters in eight states will receive a ballot in the mail ahead of the election, and all registered voters in another eight states will automatically receive an absentee ballot request form in the mail. Voters in 34 states have the option of mailing an absentee ballot without an excuse or are able to cite the pandemic as an excuse, while in eight states voters must submit an excuse besides the coronavirus in order to vote absentee.
“It’s sort of trite to say that you’re going to have the highest turnout rate of your lifetime or this is the most important election of your lifetime, but it really feels like that,” said Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who analyzes elections. “I’m still expecting this to have very high turnout in November. The outstanding question that we have is just: Will the election system be able to bear that?”
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