Record 22.7 million Americans vote early in US elections

Texas, Florida and California have the highest number of early voters

Tim and Pat Tompkins pause for a picture on their way to early vote in Bettendorf, Iowa, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. Tompkins said he and his wife, Pat, were concerned about coronavirus exposure in bigger crowds and brought their own sanitizer, but were determined to vote. (AP Photo/Geoff Mulvihill)
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Almost 23 million Americans have cast or mailed in their ballot in the 2020 election, setting a new record, 17 days before the general election.

According to the US election project that aggregates the number of early votes across the country, more than 22.7 million Americans in more than 40 states voted or mailed in their ballots by Friday afternoon.

That is more than three times the six million that had voted early in 2016, indicating a high turnout in the 2020 election.

The southern state of Louisiana became the latest to start early voting on Friday and long lines were reported on social media in its largest city of New Orleans.

All 50 states will have ballots available for early voters by the end of this week. Minnesota, Virginia, South Dakota and Wyoming were among the first to start the process of early voting. Texas, Georgia, Kansas, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Tennessee have all opened early voting polls this week.

It is unclear who would benefit most from enthusiasm and high early voting but a recent poll showed Democrats more likely to vote early or by mail.
An NPR-Marist poll found 73 percent of those planning to vote by mail backing Democratic nominee Joe Biden, while 62 percent of those who are planning to vote in person support US President Donald Trump.

So far Texas, Florida and California have the highest number of early votes with more than 2 million Americans voting in each of these states.

Georgia, where no Democrat presidential candidate has won since 1992, has a record 1.1 million early votes.

In the swing state of Michigan, 1.3 million have voted, in Wisconsin almost 800,000 cast votes, and in the key state of Pennsylvania another 685,000 have made their choice.

Former US President Barack Obama will head to Pennsylvania on Wednesday in the first campaign trail event he is doing on behalf of Mr Biden. The former president remains very popular among Democrats and has taken a bigger role in this campaign to help his former vice president.

Mr Trump held multiple rallies on Friday, one in Georgia that he carried by 5 points in 2016. But latest polls showed him trailing or tied with Mr Biden in the state. The US president also held a large rally in Florida, despite rising Covid-19 cases in the state