Early voting in the 2022 midterms is already set to surpass records previously set for early voting in the 2018 midterms, and may even reach numbers comparable to the 2020 presidential election.
According to Fox News, over 15 million people have already cast their ballots ahead of Election Day on November 8th, surpassing the previous records in the 2018 cycle, with just 11 days left to go.
Similar records have been set in several key swing states as well. In Georgia, with a hotly-contested U.S. Senate race and a fairly contentious gubernatorial election, approximately 1.02 million early ballots have already been cast. At the same time on October 26th, 2020, about 1.17 million votes had been cast in Georgia, while the total cast on the same day prior to the 2018 elections was about 634,000.
In Pennsylvania, another state with a closely-watched Senate race and gubernatorial election, roughly half of all early ballots have already been cast. Of those early votes cast, about 73 percent were from registered Democrat voters, according to the data analysis firm TargetSmart. The early voting period ends in Pennsylvania on November 1st, after which all remaining ballots will be cast on Election Day, where in-person, day-of voting overwhelmingly tends to favor Republicans.
As a result, some states are warning that final results may not be known until several days after Election Day, due to the lengthy process of counting so many early ballots. In at least 30 different states, early votes are not counted until Election Day, as opposed to being counted prior to Election Day in order to ensure a smoother vote-counting process. Some states such as California have a state-mandated period of vote-counting that extends far beyond Election Day, with the Golden State ordering a full 30-day wait period before results are made official.
Such high early voting numbers could lead to renewed controversy regarding election integrity and possible voter fraud, concerns that had previously been raised in the aftermath of the chaotic 2020 presidential election. In that year’s contest, numerous states saw unilateral changes to election procedure by Democratic governors or secretaries of state that expanded early voting, implemented the use of ballot drop boxes, and allowed for the practice of ballot-harvesting, all ostensibly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Such measures are increasingly vulnerable to voter fraud and have led to several states cracking down on such practices with strict election integrity laws.