Voting in the has started in the US presidential election across more than 20 states.
In the United States, voting in presidential elections is conducted under State rather than Federal law and most states permit voting prior to the election day itself, on 3rd November.
By the end of Saturday, 25 million ballots had been cast through postal ballot and in-person voting. This represents over 18% of the total number of votes cast in the 2016 presidential contest.
In the State of Georgia, polls opened on Monday last. 128,000 votes were cast on that day, massively exceeding the 91,000 on the first day of voting in 2016.
In Ohio, where early voting began on October 6, the number of people who cast ballots in person during the first week of early voting nearly tripled compared with 2016, with 193,021 voters going to the polls compared with 64,312 four years ago.
Turnout seems high elsewhere also, particularly in Texas, North Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana where ques of up to eight hours have been reported.
It is early to assess for certain, but the high level of voter engagement appears to be fuelled by two things: firstly, an overall enthusiasm to vote in what is promising to be one of the most contentious and divisive US elections in recent history; secondly, a wish amongst voters to avoid missing out due to Covid related restrictions which are placing a serious burden on the electoral system in some states.
The problem of queuing seems also to have been exacerbated by a reduced number of polling stations in some States, problems with IT at certain polling stations in Atlanta, Georgia. In Georgia, a state in which voter registration has increased by nearly 2 million people since 2013, polling stations have been reduced by 10%.