Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s general election is unlike any other. Over 100 million Americans already voted in the weeks leading up to Election Day, both in person and by mail. Of those who have already voted, we see both a large gender gap emerging, as well as a historic number of young people voting.
It seems that women led the way in early voting, especially in swing states. In Pennsylvania, women accounted for 57 percent of early voting and absentee ballots. In Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, and Wisconsin, women were 56 percent of early voters, and in Florida and Texas, they accounted for 55 percent.
According to last week’s poll from Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, 63% of 18 to 29-year-olds said they would “definitely” vote in the election, the highest proportion in the last 20 years, and 16 percent higher than in 2016. More than 6 million people under the age of 30 have already voted as of last Thursday, as compared to 2 million in 2016.
The significance of these numbers is particularly prevalent in Texas, a state historically known for its low rates of voter participation. In 2018, Texas under 30 voted at a much higher rate than ever before, and this year, turnout among young Texans may set records once again. As of last week, over 800,000 voters under 30 had already voted in the state. Two-thirds of them did not vote in 2016.
In Florida, more than 500,000 young voters cast their ballot ahead of Election Day—hundreds of thousands more than had done so in 2016. Despite significant legal hurdles, voter suppression, and a dangerous global pandemic, young people are voting at unprecedented rates.
Sources: NPR 10/29/20, 19th News 11/1/20; Harvard University 10/26/20; Texas Observer 11/2/20, Feminist Newswire 10/20/20, Time 8/20/20