Just one day before the election, more than 31 million postal votes are still to be cast.
According to the U.S. Elections Project, which is closely monitoring the early voting process, more than 94 million ballots were cast in the 2020 election early Monday morning.
Nearly two-thirds of these early votes were cast through the return of postal ballots (59,961,024), while 34,045,137 personal votes were cast.
However, the data also show that 31,385,941 postal ballots have not yet been returned.
Not all states indicate their party affiliation, but among the states that do are the key Battle States of Pennsylvania and Florida. Among the states that report party affiliation, far more Democrats have returned pre-November 3 ballot papers than Republicans, but they also have more outstanding ballot papers.
According to the data, 8,096,924 Democratic ballots are still outstanding, compared to 5,646,271 Republican ballots.
#Updated the day before the vote 11/1
At least 94 million people participated in the 2020 parliamentary elections ð¥³https://t.co/s8K2xFDeSA pic.twitter.com/DAyoI1bmtB
– Michael McDonald (@ElectProject) November 2, 2020
Michael McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida who heads the project, wrote on Sunday that the number of unreturned ballot papers could be a cause for concern for Democrats.
However, since there are many unknowns, it is “difficult to take the numbers at face value,” he noted.
The number of outstanding postal ballots could be an overcount, as some are in transit or with the election officials, but have not yet been entered into databases, he wrote.
McDonald also noted that some states continue to accept postal ballots if they are postmarked by election day. These include the key Battleground State Pennsylvania, where postal ballots are counted if they are received up to three days after November 3.
McDonald also said it was unclear how election officials handle the data of voters who requested a postal ballot but later decided to cast their vote in person.
He added that the data might underestimate the actual number of absentee ballots outstanding, as some states, including Texas, do not report either absentee ballot requests or the number of ballots sent by mail.
Some states do not distinguish between postal ballots and personal voting. McDonald said that the response rate for postal ballots “is too high in states where personal votes are mixed with postal ballots,” but this has no impact on the total number of postal ballots outstanding.
“Election officials in many states have never had to process so many postal ballots, so delays and discrepancies in reporting are understandable,” he wrote.
“When there were only tens of thousands of postal ballots nationwide in some of these states, it was relatively easy to process the ballots, and no one really cared about the few where someone could vote in person.
“Increase the workload by two orders of magnitude and there will be delays. Add to this the uncertainty that the postal service will make more people choose to vote personally. In difficult times, we can get by with a voting infrastructure that is poorly financed in many places”.
But the bottom line is that McDonald said he believes that more postal ballots have been returned than his data reflects. “How many, I cannot say,” he added….