We’re about a week and a half away from Election Day, November 3. But with how this year has gone, that day is better described as the “final day of voting.” As of writing this, more than 50 million Americans have already voted thanks to absentee mail-in ballots and early in-person voting. Election night itself will look equally different, as the results of mail-in ballots and in-person voting collected ahead of time should have their results posted shortly after polls close. However, there is likely to be cases across the country where Election Night tallies from both mail-in ballots and in-person voting are close, and pending ballots still in the mail yet-to-be-received will cause some folks if not all of us to hold their breath a little longer.
Voter turnout nationally in the 2016 election was about 55%. Roughly 240 million Americans are eligible to vote in this election, and if turnout at least matches the previous presidential election, more than 80 million people have yet to vote on top of the 50 million already logged. However, this unique election season has seen more than just an uptick in early voting. In fact, the aggregate get-out-the-vote (GOTV) effort has been substantially bigger and more aggressive than in previous cycles. Social media platforms remind users every time they open their app to go vote along with linking resources on how to vote. Many businesses and companies have actually built GOTV messaging into marketing campaigns, with some going so far as to push the message with GOTV-themed products.
It will be interesting to see how and if COVID-19 impacts voter turnout, however people chose to vote. Analysis will certainly be conducted looking at the comprehensive GOTV efforts rolled out for this election, as well as on the effectiveness of early voting systems in various states. Ohio currently enjoys one of the lengthier early voting systems compared to other states with absentee and early in-person voting opening statewide a full 30 days before election days. But one major metric to look out for post-election, if truly measurable or tracked, is how many absentee ballots are either lost or deemed ineligible.
On top of all this, certain issues may arise relating to pending election results that will have to be punted to the federal court system, and potentially ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. We’re already seeing some potential precursors to this with absentee ballot-related decisions begin handed down ahead of Election Day in the lower federal courts in contentious states like Pennsylvania and our very own Ohio.
Much like the rest of how 2020 has gone, this election may end up being drawn out and take much longer to end than expected beyond November 3. Some folks may even have flashbacks to the 2000 election’s “hanging chad” Florida recount saga and Bush v. Gore. But one certainty is that if you can vote, you have only a few more days to participate and make your voice heard. If you plan to vote by absentee still, get that process finished as soon as you can to avoid any mail issues. If you plan to vote in person, early or on Election Day, mentally prepare yourself for it to potentially take hours and to do it safely.
For more information on voting in Ohio go to VoteOhio.gov.