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SPLC: Millions still have their mail-in ballots, should return them in person

Nearly 100 million Americans have already voted by mail or by early in-person voting. There were 138 million total votes cast in the 2016 election. 


A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center found that 23 million mail-in ballots across the country had not yet been returned as of 5 p.m. on Monday.

With a series of court decisions nationwide threatening to prevent the counting of ballots received after Nov. 3 and ongoing U.S. Postal Service delays, the SPLC is urging anyone with a ballot to deliver it to an official drop box or their local elections office.

“It’s highly unlikely that they’ll be received in time to be counted if mailed,” said Seth Levi, chief strategy officer for the SPLC. “Voters can also surrender their absentee ballot and vote in-person on Tuesday as is their right. Voters who have already returned their ballot should check to confirm it was received. If it hasn’t been received, they can and should vote in-person on November 3.”

The SPLC is partnering with BlueLabs Analytics to track and report data on requested and returned absentee ballots and early voting in the states that report their numbers.

Nearly 100 million Americans have already voted by mail or by early in-person voting. There were 138 million total votes cast in the 2016 election. 

The SPLC used modeled partisanship combined with party affiliation where it is available to estimate that Democrats had a 17.3 percent advantage in mail-in ballots cast as of Monday, down from 17.5 percent the previous day. Republicans held a 2.7 percent advantage in early-in person votes cast, up from 2.2 percent on Sunday.

Democrats had more ballots outstanding by a margin of 15.1 percent, up from 14.8 percent on Sunday.

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Ten million ballots were returned in the week since the SPLC reported that 34 million were outstanding on Oct. 26. There were 30 million outstanding on Oct. 28, then 28 million on Oct. 30.

The SPLC listed additional national highlights from its data:

  • Young voters’ share of votes cast continues to rise. Voters aged 18 to 29 now make up 11.3 percent of mail ballots cast, up from 11.1 percent on Nov. 1, and 12.3 percent of early in-person votes, up from 11.8 percent on Nov. 1. 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 percent of registered voters nationally, but make up 13.4 percent of early in-person votes cast.
  • Latinx voters continue to make more use of voting by mail than early in-person voting. Latinx voters currently make up 10 percent of mail ballots cast and 8.7 percent of early in-person votes, up from 8.4 percent on Nov. 1.
  • The steady increase in vote share among first-time voters has continued. 7.4 percent of mail ballots cast are from first-time voters, up from 7.2 percent on Nov. 1, and 7.4 percent of early in-person votes, up from 7 percent on Nov. 1.

Micah Danney is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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