More than half-million absentee ballots, the first ballots of the 2020 US presidential election, have left elections offices en route to voters who have requested them across the southern state of North Carolina, a spokesman for the North Carolina Board of Elections said.
Over 643,000 North Carolinians have requested ballots so far this year, and hundreds of thousands more are likely to do so in the 60 days remaining before the November 3 elections, according to a The Hill report. State data showed Democratic voters are requesting ballots at more than three times the rate of Republican voters, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.
The figure far exceeds the previous presidential contest. At this point in 2016, just 38,871 voters had asked for their absentee ballots, said the report.
The number of US voters who cast ballots by mail has roughly doubled this century, from about 10 per cent in the 2000 election to about 21 per cent in 2016, according to data compiled by University of Florida political scientist Michael McDonald. That number is expected to explode this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Up to 44 million voters in nine states and the District of Columbia will have their ballots automatically mailed to their homes. Another 118 million voters live in 34 states that, like North Carolina, allow no-excuse absentee voting.