Record 74M early votes cast with less than a week until Election Day 2020

At least 74 million Americans have voted in the 2020 presidential election with less than a week to go until Election Day, according to data compiled Wednesday. 

The record number of early votes cast in the race between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden has been driven in part by safety concerns about in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Still six days away from the Nov. 3 general election, the total number of pre-election votes cast represents over half (53.7%) of all the votes cast in the 2016 presidential election, according to the U.S. Elections Project. The site provides election information and turnout data and is run by University of Florida professor Michael McDonald.

“It’s crazy,” McDonald told the Associated Press last week about the rush of early voting. “We can be certain this will be a high-turnout election.”

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Some states are also quickly approaching their individual total number of ballots counted in 2016.

In Texas, an estimated 8,975,000 Americans voted in 2016. More than 7,800,000 have voted this year in the state, still with seven days left to go, according to the U.S. Elections Project. 

Georgia has reached 71% of its 2016 vote total, while Florida has reached 67% of its total ballots cast from that year, data compiled by the site shows. Hawaii has reached 87% of its 2016 total vote.

Traditionally, Republicans have had high turnout in the weeks before Election Day. But Trump has made repeated, unfounded claims this year about the risk of widespread fraud with mail-in voting, while Biden's campaign has urged supporters to vote early, whether by mail or in person. 

Early turnout this year has consisted of far more Democrats (15.3 million) than Republicans (9 million), according to the U.S. Elections Project data. 

The lopsided number of early votes does not mean Democrats will lead once all the ballots are counted, though. Both parties anticipate a swell of Republican votes on Election Day that could dramatically shift the dynamic.

“The Republican numbers are going to pick up,” John Couvillon, a GOP pollster who is tracking early voting, told the Associated Press. “The question is at what velocity, and when?”

More young people, ages 18 to 29, have also voted early this year as compared to early voting from the same age group in 2016, according to data from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

This includes early voting in key battleground states, such as Florida, North Carolina, Michigan and Pennsylvania, that may help decide the presidency and the U.S. Senate majority. 

Overall, many experts have predicted that a record 150 million votes may be cast and turnout rates could be higher than in any presidential election since 1908.

This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.