North Carolina became the first state to start mailing out absentee ballots on Friday – kicking off the 2020 general election.
NPR noted other states will soon join in as records for the number of ballots cast early and by mail are expected to rise.
On Sept. 18, Minnesota will be the first state to offer early in-person voting. And many states will follow soon after.
"What we do need to ask of our voters is to be patient," said North Carolina State Board of Elections director Karen Brinson Bell. "This is unprecedented, the number of absentee by mail requests that we have received."
She noted the ballots will be sent out on a "rolling" basis.
North Carolina has recorded more than 643,000 requests for ballots already. By this time in 2016, fewer than 39,000 North Carolinians had requested absentee ballots. North Carolina officials reported that 337,362 Democrats requested ballots as of Friday, compared with 103,620 Republicans. The rest came from unaffiliated voters.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump told residents in North Carolina they should vote in-person and by mail to ensure their vote gets counted.
“Let them (voters) send it in and let them go vote, and if their system's as good as they say it is, then obviously they won't be able to vote. If it isn't tabulated, they'll be able to vote,”
NPR said Democrats fear that the president is trying to undermine confidence in the voting process so he can challenge the results in November if he loses.
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