Oct. 14 (UPI) — More than 1.6 million people took to the polls to vote early this week prompting four states to report record turnout with less than three weeks to go before Election Day.
Texas, Georgia, Ohio and Illinois have each outpaced voter turnout from the 2016 election, with voters in some areas facing long lines and other difficulties. Elections officials and politicians have encouraged voters to vote early and/or by mail to avoid large crowds at the polls on Nov. 3.
More than 1 million people cast ballots during the first day of early voting in Texas on Monday as the state began voting about a week earlier than in 2016, the state Democratic Party said. On Tuesday, 425,028 ballots were cast in the state’s 10 largest counties, up from 340,006 in 2016, the Texas Tribune reported.
Voters in those 10 counties also sent 224,122 ballots by mail, up from 157,277 in 2016.
At least 241,706 people went to the polls in the first two days of early voting in Georgia as more than 120,000 cast ballots on the first day of early voting, shattering the state’s previous record of about 90,000.
Voters in Georgia reported waiting as long as 4 hours to vote in the state, although some counties reduced vote times to about 90 minutes after some people were left waiting until as late as 10 p.m. to cast votes on Monday.
Fulton County election director Richard Barron, who said he expects the county to exceed 30,000 voters on the last day of early voting Oct. 30, said people seeking to cancel their absentee ballots and vote in person was “contributing to extending the lines.”
Georgia also reported that more than 473,000 absentee ballots had already been returned.
Ohio tripled its early voting numbers with 193,021 voters going to the polls in the first week, up from 64,321 during the same period in 2016.
Requests for absentee ballots also nearly doubled as the state received 2.5 million requests this year, up from 1.25 million in 2016.
Secretary of State Frank LaRose said the state “couldn’t be happier” about the high voter turnout while battling a state and federal lawsuit against county boards of election seeking to add additional ballot drop boxes in their counties.
Meanwhile, the Illinois State Board of Elections reported that more than 175,000 people have gone to the polls for early voting and more than 480,000 have returned their mail-in ballots.