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Three weeks from Election Day, pre-election voting so far matches 2018’s high levels

<i>Megan Varner/Getty Images</i><br/>Voters turn out to cast their ballots as early voting begins on October 17
Megan Varner
Megan Varner/Getty Images
Voters turn out to cast their ballots as early voting begins on October 17

By Ethan Cohen and Melissa Holzberg DePalo, CNN

Three weeks from Election Day, nearly 2.5 million Americans have already cast their ballots in the midterm elections, according to data from election officials, Edison Research and Catalist.

In 30 states where Catalist has data for 2018 and 2022, pre-election voting is on par with this point four years ago — which was the highest turnout for a midterm election in decades.

While it’s too early to predict if 2022 will eventually reach the exceptionally high turnout levels of 2018 — and it’s likely voting patterns have changed as the coronavirus pandemic pushed more people to embrace voting before Election Day — the data demonstrates that there so far appears to be comparable elevated voter interest this midterm.

Voters already are starting to cast ballots in some of 2022’s most critical swing states: More than 370,000 ballots have been cast in Michigan, nearly 237,000 in Pennsylvania and nearly 160,000 in Wisconsin.

In Georgia, a record level of midterm voters turned out in the first two days of early voting, according to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

More than 268,000 voters cast their ballot as of Wednesday morning. Over 134,000 voters cast ballots in-person on Tuesday, a 75.3% increase over 2018’s day-two midterm early voting number, and 3.3% higher than 2020 early voting numbers in the presidential election.

Detailed voter information comes from Catalist, a company that provides data, analytics and other services to Democrats, academics and nonprofit issue advocacy organizations and is giving insights into who is voting before November.

Over the next three weeks, as more votes are cast and Catalist analyzes more data, the view of the advanced voting electorate will become more clear.

In Michigan, which is home to a competitive race for governor this year, and Wisconsin, which features hotly contested races for governor and Senate, the breakdown of returned ballots by race is holding steady compared to recent years, according to the data Catalist has analyzed.

At this point in the 2018, 2020 and 2022 cycles, White Michiganders made up between 85% and 87% of voters who returned ballots, while Black Michiganders were 10% or 11%.

In Wisconsin, White voters were 89% or 90% of those who’d returned ballots at this point of the last three cycles, while Black voters made up between 5% and 6%.

That trend hasn’t continued in Pennsylvania, which is host to competitive governor and Senate races. There, White voters make up a larger share of those who have returned ballots compared to this point in 2020 (Catalist doesn’t have data for Pennsylvania in 2018).

So far, 91% of returned ballots are from White Pennsylvanians; that’s up from 79% at this point of the cycle in 2020. And Black voters in the Keystone State have only returned 5% of ballots so far in 2022; two years ago, they’d returned 15%.

Pennsylvania Republicans have also made up a larger percentage of the pre-election ballot vote share than they did at this point in 2020. Republicans make up 20% of those who have returned pre-election ballots so far, up from their 14% share at this point two years ago.

Democrats continue to dominate pre-election ballot returns, though. In 2022, Pennsylvania Democrats are 72% of those who have returned ballots already — slightly down from 78% at this point in the cycle in 2020.

The data are not predictive of ultimate outcomes. Democrats nationwide have shown a preference to cast their ballots in advance, while many Republicans strongly prefer to vote on Election Day. Former President Donald Trump and his allies baselessly questioned the integrity of voting by mail during the 2020 election.

While Catalist doesn’t have data for many ballots returned in Arizona so far, the breakdown in ballot requests by party is similar to three weeks before Election Day 2018.

At this point in the last midterm election, Arizona Democrats made up 34% of mail ballot requests and Republicans made up 37%. This time around, Democrats have requested 35% and Republicans 34%.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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