Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Friday had already reached 61% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the Elect Project.
Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.
By the numbers: Both Hawaii (104.5%) and Texas (100.4%) have already surpassed 2016's total turnout via early voting. The latter has morphed into a key swing state that could allow Joe Biden to land a knockout blow on President Trump's re-election chances.
Other states that have already amassed a huge portion of their 2016 totals include:
- Montana: 91.2%
- Washington: 88%
- New Mexico: 87.9%
- Georgia: 86.9%
- North Carolina: 85.6%
- Tennessee: 82.9%
- Oregon: 82.4%
- Nevada: 82.2%
- Florida: 81.6%
- Arizona: 80.4%
The other side: Some key battleground states are lagging behind the frontrunners. Pennsylvania, for example, has only reached 34.3% of its 2016 total turnout — but this is the first general election for which the state has implemented no-excuse absentee balloting. Historically, only about 5% of Pennsylvanians have voted by mail.
Other key battlegrounds and their current early turnout against 2016 totals:
- Wisconsin: 58.4%
- Iowa: 53.8%
- Michigan 50.3%
- Ohio: 46.3%
Yes, but: With Election Day fast approaching, in-person early voting operations in many states will close down in the days ahead to prep for Tuesday.
- Texas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, Idaho, Georgia and Arizona will end in-person early voting on Friday. Some Utah counties will shut it down on Friday as well, per Business Insider.
- In-person early voting will end on Saturday in North Carolina, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Virginia, West Virginia and parts of Florida.
Mail-in ballots also face deadlines. While some states only require that ballots be postmarked by or shortly before Election Day, others require ballots to be received by election officials on Tuesday.
- Swing states Florida and Wisconsin, for example, require mail-in ballots to be received by 7 and 8 p.m., respectively, on Election Day.
- But the Supreme Court recently shut down Republican attempts to trim mail-in deadlines in both North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
- Many states also can't begin counting their mail-in ballots until Election Day, which is likely to cause a backlog in results — and could shift results in Biden's favor as more get counted in the following days.
Between the lines: Experts say it is essentially impossible to read anything into 2020's unprecedented turnout at the current moment.
- While high-turnout elections traditionally favor Democrats, the pandemic's effects have caused traditional models to be cast aside — making it difficult to draw any conclusions about the possible outcome of the election from these historic numbers.
Go deeper: When and how to vote in all 50 states
Note: The turnout figures cited in this article were last updated at 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 30.